No.6 of 100 favourite things about Cabramatta.
Yes, it’s a soup made of anchovy! But before you judge….please read below.
If you can eat the Vietnamese dipping fish sauce and not find that offensive to your nose, then this dish is just the next step up to inducting yourself to true Vietnamese cuisine (that’s also how I see Laos papaya salad with those little anchovy crabs, once you’ve experienced the craving for a pungent Laos papaya, then you know you’ve truly understood and can appreciate Laos food).
Firstly, very few restaurants offer this dish, yes even here in Cabramatta (I think I’ve only seen it offered once outside of Cabramatta). It is a highly skilled dish and if done badly… it is SMELLY!
Doing it well, takes many many stages of distilling, filtering, caramelising, roasting and simmering. The end result is a strong broth that is sweet, salty and heavy in umami flavours. I have been known to go on holidays for weeks and the one dish I always crave is bun mam, not pho or pork rolls.
Soft mid thickness rice noodles are used. Most often topped with fried lemon grass (to counteract the fishy anchovy), crispy roast pork belly, prawns and garlic chives. Best served with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
The best bun mam is served at Dong Xanh Restaurant . The owner tells me that half of all the orders are for this signature dish. 5/55 John Street, Cabramatta. $11.
If you are feeling adventurous and would like to try your first bun mam, make sure you go and get one from Dong Xanh. A dodgey one can really traumatise you for life, so don’t take any chances of getting it wrong!