The Savoury Dining is a small restaurant chain that currently has outlets in Penrith, Campbelltown and North Strathfield. Their menu is extensive: street-style, French-influenced and traditional Vietnamese dishes with a spattering of contemporary Vietnamese–Australian fusion dishes. Arriving at their North Strathfield store as the skies cycled through orange, red, and purple, I plotted a course to sample across their range.
From the street-food menu, the pâté chaud pie ($7/2 pieces)—bánh patê sô—are French-influenced puff pastry triangles boasting flaky exteriors and seasoned ground-pork interiors. Grilled sate chilli prawns ($12/6) come split and threaded onto wooden skewers with spicy, buttery interiors. They are slightly over-cooked and harder than they should be to extract from their shells, but tasty none-the-less. We accompany our snacks with Patron Anejo tequila ($16/each) poured into tall glasses of coconut water ($5/each). They’re plucked from a drinks list that includes a small selection of cocktails, a pedestrian selection of wines and mainstream beers, and bottled Hanoi Premium Lager ($10).
From the well-photographed menu of Viet signatures, chả cá lã vọng ($32) is a grilled fish dish originating in Hanoi. Turmeric-marinated ling fillets are assembled over a collection of aromatic herbs and vegetables to protect them from the heat of the on-table burner. Wrapped in a collection of green leaves with vermicelli, chilli slices, lightly pickled carrots and a fish sauce dressing, they’re a meal highlight. From the fusion dishes, chicken-stuffed sticky rice ($19) ate best. It mashes up Vietnamese gà bó xôi or “no escape” chicken—where sticky rice is wrapped around chicken drumsticks and deep-fried—with a traditional Aussie roast chook. Here the boneless bird is stuffed with a moist mixture of sticky rice, lap cheong, and shiitake mushrooms. Bō kho pasta ($18) unites Vietnamese five-spice beef brisket with bocconcini, shaved macadamias and linguini. While the flavours in this one didn’t quite meld for me, the generous hunks of beef were beautifully tender. This worked as an inexpensive midweek feed for me, but choosing one of four set menus—ranging in price from $75–$85 for two people—could make dining here even cheaper.