Saturday, August 15, 2009

Song Fang Khong Restaurant
7 Anzac Ave
Fairfield NSW 2165
Ph : (02) 9728 4552
Open 7 Days incl Public Holidays
Hours : 11.30am – 10.00pm

With memories of my trip to Laos in Dec/ Jan still fresh, I found myself craving some Laotian food. There isn’t much in the nature of variety in terms of Laotian food, and I didn’t want to go down the “Mod Lao” way of Pink Peppercorn so we found ourselves headed to Song Fang Khong Restaurant. What we didn’t realise though, was the amount of time it would take us to get there. An hour each way. Ack.

By the time we arrived, we were more than ready to eat.

Song Fang Khong is a self described “Authentic Lao & Thai” Restaurant. Now I can’t claim to have eaten even a tiny percentage of the whole gamut of Laotian food during my trip there, but this wasn’t really similar to what I had experienced in Vientiane or Luang Prabang. A small restaurant near the rather startling Fairfield RSL, it is a restaurant at its most basic, very much an informal neighbourhood restaurant with not much in the way of decor, though definitely with more thought put into decoration than the neighbouring Lao Village. It seems that Fairfield is a bit of a hub for Laotian restaurants, there are at least four of them there.

No sooner had we ordered from the menu, which had a median price of $7-8, than a plate of mint leaves, shredded cabbage and iceberg lettuce appeared.

First up came the Lao Papaya Salad ($7), a verson of Som Tum.

There are many variations of Som Tum, this one contained brined crabs (I only picked up legs) which were too hard (not crunchy) for me to eat, and was quite mild compared to the Thai ones in Campbell St for example. Less sour, less chilli, but enjoyable nonetheless.

What the Som Tum did go with was the sticky rice, a generous portion for a mere $3.

The steamed rice, which was $2, was equally generous in size. This photo doesn’t really reflect the size of the bowl terribly well.

Next up came the BBQ Ox Tongue ($7).

I hadn’t eaten ox tongue since I was a child, when I’d only ever eaten it braised in a lot of tomatoes, onions and the like. This ox tongue was better than the tongue of my childhood, and better still when dipped in the mild chilli sauce.

Tongue sauce on left, quail sauce on right.

The Crispy Marinated Herbed Quail ($9 for 2)......

........was impossible to eat with anything other than one’s fingers. I love quail, and this example was tender, juicy and with the citrusy kick of the sauce, a dish I wished that we’d ordered another serve of.

The final dish was the BBQ Pork Neck ($7.50)

What’s not to like about nicely BBQd meat? This tied with the quail as my personal favourite. I just didn’t find the ox tongue as flavoursome as the other two meat dishes.

The “Thai/ Lao” combination and some of the mixed nature of the food puzzled me, so I did the inevitable online searching. These have lead to a personal suspicion that a lot (if not all) of the Lao or Lao/ Thai restaurants in Fairfield are probably run by people originating from the Isan region.

There is no doubt that Song Fang Khong provides good value as a restaurant. There aren’t many places in Sydney which leave you satiated for so little in the way of money. I would like to go back and to try some of the other dishes (and also try Lao Village next door) but Fairfield is just too far out of my usual travel zone for anything other than a special visit. Were it nearer, I could see myself becoming a regular customer.



Simon Food Favourites said...

i haven't tried Laotian food. is there any Laotian restaurants you'd strongly recommend i try?

Christie @ Fig & Cherry said...

Wow, great find!

I lurve pork neck - such a flavour-filled cut!

Love the look of that ox tongue too, perfectly pink. Can't wait to try this place when I'm back in Sydney.

The Sydney Tarts said...

Simon - this is the first Laotian restaurant I've tried in Sydney so alas don't have a big enough sample size to recommend any specific one to you. Quite enjoyed this place though!

Christie - The pork neck was tasty :) Look forward to hearing what you think of Song Fang Khong.