I had been desolate about my seemingly futile hunt for the perfect soothing bowl of phở, and nuanced Vietnamese food in Auckland. In a stroke of luck, within a fortnight, I’ve managed to stumble my way to both branches of Try It Out Vietnamese Restaurant.
The Otahuhu restaurant is the original site, and even though I’m sure the décor has not been updated since painted concrete blocks were in fashion, it is still packed everyday. The service is fast and efficient, and the food rolls out at quick knots. The newly opened East Tamaki branch is a modern space, and has a more extensive menu. They also play Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam dvd on a loop, so if you get bored, you can get a surreptitious masterclass from the darling of Vietnamese cookery.
For those who crave the ultimate Indochine sandwich bánh mì ($6.00), you can only get this at the East Tamaki restaurant. I’m addicted to this bread roll made with crispy baguette and filled with pork belly and paté, julienned pickled carrots and cucumber and lashings of herbaceous coriander. I could eat this for lunch everyday.
We had the traditional appetisers, gỏi cuốn, on the menu as steamed prawn roll ($5.50 for two) and chả giò, Vietnamese spring roll ($4.50 for two). Both tasted fresh and full of flavour.
Another appetiser that I love is the bánh xèo, Vietnamese pancake ($15.00), which masquerades as an omelette but is actually a turmeric-coloured rice pancake filled with pork belly, prawns and bean sprouts. Utterly addictive.
The test of all Vietnamese eateries is their interpretation of phở, or beef noodle soup. The phở here is good enough to satisfy my craving, with succulent paper-thin rare beef slices and your choice of offal (I typically refuse tripe, but somehow it works in phở) in a fragrant, savoury broth. $10.50 for the beef version, $11.00 if you want tripe and $12.00 for the special version.
The special combination thin rice noodle ($13.00) is great if you want to try a range of different meats.
The only thing that lets it down is the jackfruit milk shake, which could be a lot smoother. The lychee milk shake tastes better, but still needs work. The East Tamaki branch also has a wide range of desserts, which you can select from the chiller.
Try It Out is a favourite of my Cambodian sis-in-law (can’t argue with an expert) and my go-to place for reasonably priced, quick and delicious Vietnamese food. I only wish it was a lot closer to where I live.
Try It Out Vietnamese Restaurant
79 Atkinson Ave, Otahuhu
Ph: 09 – 276 9339
20L Torrens Road, East Tamaki
Ph: 09 – 272 4666