In the past year in Sydney, food courts have really gussied up. It all started with the newly reduxed Westfield, and now the Galeries Victoria have taken it to the next level. Once upon a time, downstairs at the Galeries was home to all the usual kebab, pizza slice and runny dhal options of your average food court. But the place has been transformed.
It’s still all takeaway outlets, but there’s fancy seating. Ichi Ban Boshi have their own ramen outlet now, which means no more lining up at the upstairs restaurant if you don’t want to. There’s a fancier branch of Chat Thai, too, though it’s more of a canteen than a restaurant. Today, however, we’re here for Madame Nhu - the Vietnamese takeaway joint brought to you by the guys from Summer Roll and restaurant Xage on Crown Street in Surry Hills. Here, you’ve got plenty of choice but our picks are the pho, vermicelli salad and fresh rice-paper rolls.
The pho is quite sweet in the broth stakes, but is packed with three types of beef and lots of slippery noodles. Madame Nhu aren't stingy with the fresh basil, either. It's definitely a contender for the crown of best inner-city lunchtime pho (though Pho 24 across the road from the George Street KFC and Pho Gia Hoi down near Pasteur remain our go-tos for a pho fix). The winner this lunch is the vermicelli rice salad with nem nướng skewers - here, meatball missiles are made of a mix of chicken and pork. They're served with rice noodles, pickled carrot, cucumber, toasted peanuts, lettuce leaves and nuoc cham - a spicy mix of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli. Madame Nhu is a blessing for city workers and just the ticket for fresh summer snacking.