Monday, March 14, 2011

Fresh Chilli Deli

In the gastronomic wasteland of the outer suburb where I went to uni, there were two choices - Subway or Red Rooster.  Therefore, Subway (or more to the point, their 6-inch veggie sub, no cheese) did keep me alive for those four years.  As a result, though, I can eat no more Subway - the sickly sweet tang of the "fresh baked" bread now makes me retch.  Why would I need to anyway, living in Footscray, home of banh mi, of which Nhu Lan in Hopkins Street is queen?

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We adore Nhu Lan and they won best banh mi in our recent limited-sample yet highly scientific blind banh mi taste test.  That morning I thought it was time, though, to see what the rest of the west had to offer.  Fresh Chilli Deli started in 2007 in St Albans and now has a new branch in Sunshine.

fresh chilli menu

It's a slicker operation than most banh mi shops.  Your order is placed at one counter, docket dispensed and then made at another.  Choices are your classic fillings with the addition of fish cake (Nhu Lan has fish cake but not on the menu - just ask for it).  There are also Aussie selections like ham or salami and cheese.

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If you are scared of Vietnamese rolls because of the long-ago salmonella outbreak in Footscray, please don't be concerned.  That shop is long gone and it is like being scared of driving because a car might crash - in fact, the odds are more like flying and a plane crash of you getting sick from a pork roll these days.  The classic cold mixed ham is actually not my favourite - I prefer the hot meat offerings like BBQ pork or chicken.  You can see the pork and chicken fillets here as well as the two varieties of meatball - either in the thick red sauce or the spongier style, threaded on skewers and often called "kebab".

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The best part of the roll, though, is the salad - mild pickled carrot and white radish (would be paw paw in Vietnam, I believe), cucumber spear, spring onion and fresh coriander.  The crunchy long roll is spread with pate and "egg butter" (special mayo), your choice of meat and its appropriate sauce, then all that wonderful salad.

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Iced coffee, $3 ($2.50 with roll)

The big thing I liked about Fresh Chilli is the fact that you can have a coffee there - they have an espresso machine and make a quite decent latte, according to my lovely friend C.  Coffees are $3 or $2.50 with a roll - brilliant!  This iced coffee was fantastic, so strong and rich, like a shot of adrenaline.  They do rely on the ice melting to create a long, refreshing drink and unfortunately that day was chilly so it was quite a short-lived pleasure.

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Tofu, $3.50

Nhu Lan have a brilliant tofu banh mi - big chunks in a rich, dark sauce.  One tofu and one salad is Mr Baklover's standard order so I was pleasantly surprised to find Fresh Chilli did tofu too.  I was not mad about this - tofu is tricky to make flavoursome all the way through and I found the centres of these puffs a bit boring.  The sauce was thin and light and not what I expected.  Mr Baklover thought it was quite nice though.

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Salad,$2.50

Sorry, this was a bit of an epic fail, mainly because of our expectations.  Nhu Lan's salad baguette is a meat banh mi just minus the meat.  This was a regular Aussie salad sanger with tomato and red onion and too much thick Aussie mayo.  If you wanted a salad sandwich it would be fine but we wanted that real Vietnamese taste.

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BBQ Chicken, $3.50

Awesome BBQ chicken though, chopped up small and here, the quality of the salad shone through.  Lots of chilli just the way I like it as well as Vietnamese BBQ sauce and little fried onions.  Perfection!

I think we ordered badly here - I will definitely go back to try the rest of the BBQ meat options as the chicken was a winner and the classic salad fillings were quality and very tasty.  I reckon this would be a great spot to bring a friend or family member who wasn't into classic Vietnamese rolls.  There's outdoor seating which is great for lounging about on a sunny day.  I came past here one day and saw about 15 or so bicycle cops in their fluoro yellow vests, all chowing down on banh mi.  True story.  That's quite a resounding endorsement!

Fresh Chilli Deli
Shop 2/304 Hampshire Road, Sunshine (map)
Phone:  9678 6959
Hours:  5am - 6pm, 7 days

Wheelchair Access
Call to confirm.

28 comments:

  1. I agree - the salad is the best part of banh mi. I'm going to start asking for extra chilli, as the normal portion at Nhu Lan is barely noticeable! Good story about the coppers!

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  2. Ah these rolls are the new vege-mite sandwich!!!

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  3. awesome blog - give the tofu roll a go at the st albans chilli deli. They give you the nuoc tuong that you get with the salad roll at nhu lan and i reckon on a good day its better than a nhu lan tofu roll! and i thought nothing could ever be better than a nhu lan tofu roll.
    For vegos too, at st albans chilli deli they ask when you order tofu if you are veg and then procede without request to wipe the oft meat laden tongs down for you.
    Tofu roll + Fresh soy milk = $4.80. Lunch win!

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  4. Emelia, that is such a great tip! Thank you!!

    Kenny, I always ask for extra chilli otherwise you cannot taste it, I agree.

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  5. I have to say I'm not a fan of the Nhu Lan salad banh mi. There's something about the combination of caramelised onions, crushed peanuts and fish sauce that reacts to have a vaguely unpleasant plastic taste for me.

    That being said, everything else there is awesome. I just wish they did a banh mi op la (fried egg). I see Fresh Chilli has bacon and egg on their menu... Might have to try it, sans bacon!

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  6. My fave is the Sunny Nguyen (just across from Footscray station) bakery's banh mi. It is very basic but the lovely flavours of the screamingly fresh salad make my day and I think the sullen look from the girl serving whenever I ask for extra chilli just adds to my enjoyment!

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  7. Ohhh banh mi op la! I would love to try that!

    Hello Miss Alison! That is a great tip, I will have to try them out!

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  8. James In FootscrayMarch 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Love your blog, and thanks so much for the heads up on Nhu Lan. I've been walking past for ages without realising what a gem it is.

    It's a pity you can't sit down there - but you can take your banh mi to the market or that park off Leeds St. Hot tip!

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  9. Hi James, it is a pleasure and thanks for the hot tip! Which park off Leeds, not Maddern Square?? Another secret is that Nhu Lan sell mini banh mi for like $2.50, so you could get two different mini sandwiches to fit more flavours in. Bonus!!

    Make sure you try Ba Le in Leeds - not 100% my cup of tea but others swear by it. Great value at $3 a roll. Tan Truc Giang in Leeds do fantastic roast pork rolls - get the vege rice paper rolls as well.

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  10. I love NHU LAN and yes, i always ask for more chillies while fighting with the crowd.

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  11. they do have a good varieties of filling here. Good stuff!

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  12. Interesting that the banh mi from Nhu Lan and FreshChilliDeli differ so much, because the latter is actually an offshoot of Nhu Lan. Both stores are owned and operated by the same people/family.

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  13. Why is this the first I'm hearing about banh mi? Where have I been??? Thanks to you Ms Baklover I'm now a banh mi convert! Sampled my first at South Melb Market on the weekend. Probably not the best representation, but it's a good start and I'm hooked!

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  14. Hooray!!! They are the best foodstuff ever. I can't get enough.

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  15. Hey, I have never heard (or read) about the tofu and fish cake options for Nhu Lan before. Is it off the menu? What other options are there? I adore

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  16. Thank you for pointing out Fresh Chilli Deli & Roti Ria Lauren!
    We went there for a quick lunch today ( followed by Roti susu for dessert)... and just loved everything about it :-)
    We can't wait to sample Nhu Lan's menu now!!!
    M&P

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  17. Whoops, missed the last few comments. Anon, the fish cake is not on the menu but you can see them at the front of the salad section of the bain marie at Nhu Lan - they look like vegie burgers. The tofu is on the menu wall but on its own separate poster. Other options are the mini banh mi which are about $2.40. Get two with two different flavours!

    M&P, glad you enjoyed it! I am due a trip back to Roti Ria! :)

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  18. the owners of fresh chilli deli are actually the original owners of nhu lan in footscray which they sold to their family/business partner and opened in st albans and sunshine

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    1. Story is both original owners split ...and partner opened new shop in St Albans....original owner still runs Nhu Lan as before

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    2. I've tried the Fresh Chill in St Albans and can confirm it is good. Fil

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    3. G'day Fil! Great to hear. I've only tried the one at Sunshine, and it is good.

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    4. Footscray's Nhu Lan BBQ pork / chicken rolls are absolutely amazing!!....hands down to this establishment for delicious recipes and honest fast friendly service. I can see why this is the most popular vietnamese bakery in Melbourne by a mile

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    5. mmmm yum!! i agree too....had a bbq pork roll the other day from Nhu Lan Footscray and my mouth literally exploded with flavour. My roll was also made so fast, never seen anything like it before - those quick hands

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  19. Anon, interesting! Thanks for the inside info.

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  20. Keep up the good work Lauren!

    I was here today for a work site visit and visited Fresh Chilli Deli based on your review :)

    Cody

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Cody! Glad you liked it. I want to try the other one a few doors down.

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