Eating out in multicultural Sunshine can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a recommendation. Luckily for me, the path to Xuan Banh Cuon has been trodden by some of my favourite food bloggers – Footscray Food Blog, Consider the Sauce and Melbourne Gastronome.
Add my voice to their chorus because the banh cuon at Xuan Banh Cuon is out of this world. Banh cuon, thin Vietnamese rice paper crepes, are pretty rare to find in pho-filled Melbourne. And the few versions I’ve tried do not compare to the pliable, freshly made rolls being doled out at Xuan Banh Cuon.
From the outside the family-run restaurant looks much like many Vietnamese restaurants in the area. The seating is functional, the cutlery is serviceable and a big screen TV looms from the wall.
Have a peek in the kitchen though. Expert hand quickly ladle a thin stream of watery flour batter which is spread with a flat paddle to create tissue-thin crepes. These are quickly flipped up and rolled with various fillings and presented to your table, still steaming.
The menu is short, with the first five options being varieties of banh cuon. The signature dish #1 contains slivers of wood ear (mushrooms), dried prawns and pork that’s minced in house ($10). It’s topped with crispy shallots and pork floss.
That’s not all! The dish comes with some sliced pork loaf, a heap of bean sprouts and fresh mint plus nuoc cham (fish sauce with sugar, chilli, garlic, lime)
We ordered our banh cuon with a ‘prawn hash brown’ which was a flat pancake of fried potato sticks with some coconutty school prawns on top ($14). Next time I will just stick to the original.
We also tried a bowl of the banh da cua, red noodles with crab paste which is a specialty of Hai Phong, a port city in Northern Vietnam. Our #6 soup came with wide red rice noodles hidden amongst a couple of fish cakes, beef-stuffed vine leaves, tofu and green veg in a strong soup stock. As with pho you can DIY your own version with the supplied herbs, bean sprouts, chilli and lemon.
When a restaurant is named after a single dish then you know it’s the best thing to try on the menu. I guarantee that you will love the banh cuon at Xuan Banh Cuon and it’s well worth a trip to Sunshine just to get the #1!
Xuan Banh Cuon, 232 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine 9364 8992
Daily 9am – 8pm