Best Cheap Eat: Time Out Food Awards 2018

Where can you get the best bang for your buck?
Food at Banh Xeo Bar
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
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Winner: Banh Xeo Bar

A Vietnamese diner in Sydney’s south offers inventive takes on the classics

The Cannery in Rosebery is a high-density snack zone featuring Gelato Messina, Black Star Pastry, Archie Rose, Three Blue Ducks, Da Mario pizzeria and now, this white-tiled lunch spot, lit by a pink neon sign, where Vietnamese is on the menu. Don’t pre-snack – you’ll need every inch for the banh xeo. Those titular, lacy-edged, coconutty pancakes in a luminous turmeric gold embrace a core of pumpkin, corn, crunchy pig’s head nuggets or barbecued lemongrass chicken. Break it up, add pickled onion, carrot, fresh shiso and mint leaves, and ferry the lot to your mouth in rafts of cos lettuce. It gets high marks on the light-and-fresh score as well as the fried-and-delicious one.

The other must-order is the beef noodle soup from Central Vietnam that is a cousin to the more famous pho. Ten hours of simmering pulls every meaty vestige from beef bones, creating a broth with savoury depths to rival the Mariana Trench. Short, slippery rice noodles and tender, fatty slices of beef provide comfort, while chilli and lemongrass bring tropical heat. When your lunchtime options are this good, the packed lunch doesn’t stand a chance.

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