Before going meat-free, I used to frequent the Madame Nhu in the food court under The Galeries in Town Hall for my (almost) daily fix of phở. My addiction to phở was so intense, I used to have it every day and it didn’t help that it was so close to my former workplace.
Since going meat-free, I’ve really struggled to find a cruelty-free alternative because I’d order a vege phở only to be delivered a flavourless noodle soup, leaving me with a lot to be desired. That is, until I discovered Nourishing Quarter in Redfern.
4pcs @ $14 AUD / 6pcs @ 6 pcs @ $17.50 AUD
These dumplings are one of Chris’ favourites, with diced marinated tofu and assorted vegetables wrapped in a thick, velvety dumpling skin and then decorated with fresh coriander and watercress. We’ve been back a couple of times already and had this every single time.
They give you a touch of chilli sauce (see photo above) which frankly is more than enough for Chris and I, but the table next to us asked for more sauce and they were generously delivered a whole teacup of it.
The sauce? Oh, the savoury Nourishing Quarter dumpling sauce. By the third or fourth dumpling, we were tipping and turning the dish trying to get every last drop of that salty sweet goodness. So freaking good!
Amaranth and quinoa noodle salad (in two sauces) with crispy tofu lingerings
entrée @ $19.50 AUD / main @ $26 AUD
The tofu lingerings soak up the beautiful Sout East Asian flavours of zesty sesame oil, lime and chill dressing yet still manage to have have a delightful crisp to them. Tossed with a mustard, soy and balsamic vinegar seasoning, the quinoa/amaranth and sweet kumara noodles married the flavours between east and west beautifully.
Just a note, I tried this before I dove into my pho-ever more nourished soup and found that it took away some of the flavours of my vegan phở because the flavours were a lot stronger. So make sure you’ve got a glass of water or another beverage of choice to cleanse your palate if you’re trying others’ dishes!
Pho-ever more nourished soup with buckwheat and purple sweet kumura noodles
Lo and behold, the saving grace of my addiction to phở as a vegetarian! With protein tofu strips replacing what would have been slices of rare beef, this noodle soup was complemented with crunchy beansprouts, juice of a freshly cut lemon, exotic South East Asian spices and aromatic Vietnamese basil.
I’ve already had this four times and it never gets old. Every single time we go, the lady always asks if I’d tried the bún riêu yet and I always tell her I went with the phở again. I think I’d better give the bún riêu a go next time!
See how tastefully mismatched the décor is? From the upcycled wine bottle vase, lace and silk garments among the rustic brick backdrop to the dusty photo frames and reclaimed candelabra sitting atop the mantelpiece, there’s always something sure to capture your attention in every corner.
The restaurant itself is an eclectic piece of art, from the bric-à-brac style interior to the vintage collectables lining the walls to the likes of Josephine Baker gently sounding from an old record player across the dining space.
We were told that every bit of décor was either upcycled from a thrift shop or simply passed down from others who no longer had use for them. The style of it all was truly, very 1930s, I felt like I’d time-travelled my way back to the latter days of the suffragette movement.