Market meals: A mini Footscray Market favourites round-up 


    By Deborah Ong 

    I am ashamed to admit that despite having lived in the inner-west for the past twelve years, I really only started to frequent Footscray Market in the past six. It was only after Little Saigon got decimated by fire that the husband and I reluctantly dragged ourselves there, still feeling like we were cheating on an old, dear friend. 

    While probably nothing will ever replace the gaping Little-Saigon-shaped hole in our lives, we very quickly realised what we had been missing out on for years in Footscray Market – some gosh darn tasty food. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the food worth eating in the market, as that would warrant several pages to do it justice. These are just a few of my personal favourites that we can’t help but go back to over and over again. 

    Now, I don’t know about you dear reader, but I love me a bowl of noodles or congee for breakfast. Not only is it a warm, comforting start to the morning, but it effectively fuels me for the whole day. 

    Huu Huu Thanh (stalls 82, 83 & 84) has been operating in Footscray market for over a decade, and they do a mean bowl of cháo (Vietnamese-style congee) with a beautiful depth of flavour. I particularly love their cháo long (pork offal congee), as the offal is tender and cooked to just the right doneness. For those who prefer a little less innards in the morning, they also have cháo gà (chicken congee) and cháo cá (fish congee), both excellent. There is also the option of having plain congee with a chicken coleslaw on the side, which is wonderful for a little freshness, and a good option if you’re trying to hit those five serves of veggies a day. 

    Just a few stalls down, right where the main entrance is, are relative new-comers Xuan Anh Banh Cuon. While they may be new to Footscray Market, they are absolutely not new to the bánh cuốn game. This is a sister shop to long-standing Xuan Banh Cuon in Sunshine, which has been slinging these freshly steamed rice paper rolls for eleven years. Their menu is smaller than their Sunshine sibling, but I would argue that the bánh cuốn are a touch more delicate. Stuffed with lightly peppered minced pork, thin slivers of wood-ear fungus and served with fresh bean sprouts, herbs and nước chấm (dipping sauce of fish sauce, sugar, citrus, garlic and chilli), bánh cuốn is one of my favourite light meals to have when I am doing my marketing. 

    Heading into the main food court, the husband and I find it hard to go past Nhu Ngoc Bakery. Their tiger bread rolls are phenomenal. I am particularly in love with their mixed ham rolls, which they make using their tiger rolls. The fillings are generous and well-seasoned, but more than that, the bread itself is chewier and less airy than other bakeries in the area. The rolls themselves are also longer and slightly narrower than the standard banh mi roll, which makes a much less messy eating experience overall. They also do a butter and pate roll for under $5, which makes a fantastic grab-and-go snack for walking around the market with, or to bring home for afternoon tea. 

    Right next to Nhu Ngoc Bakery is stalwart Huu Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant that has been trading in the market for just over two decades. Their Bún bò Huế is comforting, full-flavoured, yet not too heavy. At $15 a bowl, their serving portion is just the right size to fill you up but not weigh you down. They also do a wide range of house-made Vietnamese drinks which go perfectly with any of their soul-affirming soups. 

    Last, but certainly not least in this little round-up is Thu’s Vietnamese Takeaway on the other side of Huu Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant. This shop is known for its delectable duck coleslaw, served on its own, with soup noodles or with congee. 

    They also do a free-range chicken coleslaw for those who aren’t ardent fans of duck. You can also pre-order their salads Deb Ong Footscray Market.docx in trays, which is perfect to bring for potluck dinners or family gatherings if you don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to cook. 

    Time and space permitting, I could go on as there are so many more gems, including newly opened Aroi Thai which does a great bowl of boat noodles. But don’t take my word for it, make your own way down to Footscray Market and try something that you haven’t tried before! 

    Address: 18 Irving St, Footscray 

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