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Lovers of pho – the rice noodle soup and street food staple of Vietnam – will quickly become devotees of The Naughty Chef in Surry Hills. This small Vietnamese eatery has been serving up its famous pho to the local working community for years, and in late 2007 took the plunge to open for nights. Don’t come for the ambience – the tiled walls and tissue box serviettes don’t exactly spell fine dining – but such large portions served so quickly and at such a reasonable price have won The Naughty Chef a loyal clientele. The Vietnamese characters on the plastic menus also indicate the eatery’s popularity with the local Vietnamese community – and that is always a good sign.
The 007 hot and spicy beef or chicken Vietnamese rice noodle soup has gained a loyal following for its fiery kick and fresh ingredients. Chilli, shallots, herbs, meat and noodles dance in the massive bowl of steaming broth. Served with a plate of bean shoots, leafy herbs, wedges of lemon and chilli, customers can adjust the flavours to suit their personal preferences. The soup is made fresh with a special chilli concoction, ginger and a selection of herbs. Stir-fries, laksas, and rice and noodle dishes also make an appearance on the menu – but the drawcard is, of course, the Vietnamese pho. Vegetarians have a range of dishes to choose from, including the rice noodle soup or stir-fried bean curd with Vietnamese noodles. Operating as a family business, the Surry Hills restaurant opened its doors just before the Sydney Olympic Games rush in 2000; there is also a second outlet near Wynyard Station which feeds the lunch crowd during the week. Bring cash as there are no EFTPOS facilities available.