31 May 2009

Ben Ngu: Vietnamese, Marrickville (30 May 2009)

260 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204

This SMH Good Living Review on 22 May 2009 inspired my dad to check out this place as he's always looking for a good and cheap Vietnamese beef pho. So today we venture out to try a few Vietnamese classics. The restaurant looks spacious and clean but as I sit down I detect a not so nice damp smell around our table — I'm suspecting it's possibly come from the cleaning (not so clean) cloth that's been used to wipe the table down as it's still a little wet. The young staff seem quite rushed off their feet and it takes about 10 minutes to grab their attention and ask for tea cups twice so we can pour ourselves a tea from our awaiting hot tea flask. I noticed most of customers dining were predominately Anglo. Not a promising start but I'm hoping the food will make up for these initial impressions.

The soups are quite large and very reasonably priced. I enjoy the depth of flavour of the spicy soup more than the plainer chicken soup and the side plate of salad is a generous size as well. The Vietnamese pancake is fairly crunchy and thicker than the one I've had at Thanh Binh in Newtown but it's filling seems to be dominated by too many bean sprouts for my preferred liking. I'd probably try a few other dishes if I happen to visit again.

One main gripe that annoys me with this restaurant, and many other cheap and cheerful Asian eateries, is that they've obviously tried hard to make the front of house dining area look nice and clean but when you venture out the back through the kitchen and to the toilets it's like a mine field and dirty and dusty objects on shelving and old bits and pieces lying around the back which becomes very unsightly and should at least try to be covered up. I think all customer touch points are important and making sure they're all presented at their best.

Vietnamese pancake $9

Hue style rice vermicelli spicy soup (Bún bò Hué) $8

Chicken rice noodle soup $8

Side salad which accompanies soups

My small personal eating bowl of Vietnamese pancake, spicy soup and chicken soup

Table condiments and cutlery tray

Dining area

Cool sculpture across the road on the Royal Exchange Hotel

View Larger Map
Ben Ngu on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I've been to this place a few times & its always satisfied me. It's definetly and Oldie, but a Goodie ever since it started out in Cabramatta, Bankstown & Now Marrickville. I can agree with most aspects of the review, but it seems the blogger is Ultra-critical and expecting a 5 Star fine dining experience for the price your paying.You'll definetly feel like a King dining here on a tight budget, mains & servings are very good. But don't expect Fine Dining in surburia Marrickville.

ana said...

this restaurant is absolutely delicious ... i recommend that you don't leave without tasting the salt and pepper king prawns (you can eat the entire prawn, head and all!) All the dishes are well known but are so fresh and tasty. four stars for taste and value.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi anonymous, you can definitely feast like a king with such reasonable prices which is great. I definitely don't expect 5 star fine dining from such a restaurant, but I do think they could present themselves much better with a good cleanup of some of the back public areas of the restaurant to give a much better overall appearance and experience.

hi ana, thanks for the recommendation of the salt and pepper king prawns. I've tried a dish like this at Thanh Binh in Cabramatta http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com/2009/04/thanh-binh-vietnamese-restaurant-5.html and found it's best to eat them quickly before they get cold. I'll have to remember to try them at Ben Ngu next time :-)

Simon Food Favourites Map

View Simon Food Favourites in a larger map Key: BLUE - Location visit and review PINK - Simon Favourites and places offering something special

Small Bars in Sydney map

View Small Bars in Sydney in a larger map