UPDATE 7th January 2017: MissChu has re-opened as Saigon Lane and is no longer run by Nahji Chu.
I loved my visits to MissChu (the Darlinghurst tuckshop), both takeaway and eating at one of the street tables. My favourite dishes were the tiger prawn and green mango rice paper rolls and the prawn and crab net spring roll vermicelli salad. The latter featured a few delicately crispy net spring rolls filled with prawns and crab and served on a bed of rice vermicelli salad with a Vietnamese salad dressing. Delicious! I had not come across net spring rolls before. My friends would go for the Wagyu beef pho or the roast suckling pork bánh mi and I was told that both were delicious. I loved the herbs used – I recall shisho leaves and Vietnamese mint. The flavours were very fresh and they really did make a difference – many of the Vietnamese restaurants that I had been to back in the UK do not use these herbs.
For vegetarians and vegans, MissChu is a good option. As a semi-veggie, I tried a few of the non meaty options on the menu. The vegetarian net spring rolls and the bánh mi (with free range egg omelette filling and lovely pickles and herbs) were delicious. My meat eating friend was also very fond of the sautéed shitake, enoki & shimeji mushrooms and tofu with greens and rice – a true vegan delight.
For some of the dishes, the taste was a little bland for me alas. The vegan pho was nice enough but did not have the aromatic broth you’d associate with pho – the broth was flavoured with Asian mushrooms and tasted like a pleasant but bland soup noodle. I think I am too accustomed to fish sauce 😉 I was also not overly fond of the vegan pancakes or the vegetarian steamed buns. However, I do appreciate that one of the main characteristics of a pho is the rich meaty broth and that Vietnamese food is traditionally not vegetarian friendly. I really appreciated the fact that there were so many decent vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. In the UK where I’m from, many Vietnamese eateries will have a token vegetable spring roll dish on the menu or no vegetarian option at all, so hats off to MissChu for having a good selection of veggie dishes and for giving us the chance to try Vietnamese flavours!
MissChu also had plenty of gluten free options such as pho and the net spring rolls.
Although eating at MissChu is not too expensive, it is not cheap – you will find plenty of cheaper places near Chinatown and you may need to order a side dish to go with your main course if you want to feel properly full. However, you are paying for quality ingredients and healthy food (no msg) in an expensive area of Sydney. I was completely hooked on those rice paper rolls and the net spring roll vermicelli salad. I was so pleased to find out that a branch had opened in London a few months before I returned from Oz to the UK. Long live the Nahji Chu, the Queen of Rice Paper Rolls!
UPDATE 20th January 2015: the London shop has closed 😦
MissChu Darlinghurst Tuck Shop
185 Bourke Street
Sydney, NSW 2010
Tel: +61 2 8356 9988
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 11.00 – 21.00
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: Up to $20