Westside Acton Park - shipping container village

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After our yum cha experience at AKIBA, Linda and I decided to go in search for dessert. I'd heard that the shipping container village was doing a soft launch on the Canberra Day weekend and we wanted to check out the creperie, news of which kept tantalising me.

Image credit: Linda Soo

When we got there, it looked as though the recreational area was ready to be used, but not all shops were open, including the creperie. The skateboard swings were pretty cool though!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynerDfs0Gho&feature=youtu.be

A bit of digging on the Westside Acton Park website uncovered the following information I was after about the food and drink on offer:

Miss Vân’s Street Food (Vietnamese, Lao and Thai food)

Miss Vân’s is proud to offer food that has been cooked by three generations of our family, spanning over four different countries. Though focusing primarily on Vietnamese cuisine, we incorporate a heavy influence of Lao & Thai cooking flavours and dishes. Food that is commonly sold by street vendors and at hawker markets in Vietnam, Laos & Thailand; we present tasty, vibrant, fresh and healthy classic dishes.

A central menu consisting of phở (beef noodle soup), bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) & bún (Vermicelli noodle bowls), we will offer a weekly rotating “specials” menu, where one featured dish is sold in addition to the regular menu. These dishes will include items such as Vietnamese pork & lemongrass soup (Bún bò Huế), chicken congee (Cháo gà), Vietnamese chicken rice, sticky rice & grilled chicken, pad thai, springrolls & stuffed chicken wings etc.

Beverages will include Vietnamese iced coffee, homemade soya bean milk infused with pandan leaf & ginger, young coconut juice, along with the standard fare of soft drinks.

La Crepe (French Creperie)

La Crepe is the creation of Parisien, Franck Leonhardt, whose connection with Australia commenced after a chance meeting with an Australian woman in the romantic city of Paris. It was love at first sight! They got married, lived in Paris for twelve years and relocated to Canberra in 2012 with their two sons.

Franck will be recreating the delicious sweet and savory crepes from his childhood at the exciting new Westside Acton Park precinct.

O' So Smoothie (smoothie bar)

O‘ So Smoothie will predominantly be a smoothie kiosk which will also offer the O’ So Smoothie specialty muesli. We have developed a menu which caters to the dietary requirements of dairy-free and gluten intolerant people, being a health focused café.

The menu includes a range of rich and creamy to light and refreshing smoothies. There will be everyday smoothies and a specials board which will change weekly. We will have low-carb options for those who wish to watch their sugar intake and high protein and energy shakes for those looking to power through the day. All smoothies will be made from fresh and healthy ingredients sourced and bought locally where possible.

Damn Fine Roasters (Canberra's first drive-thru coffee shop)

Damn Fine Roasters is a coffee roasting business with its roots and family heritage originating from Italy. It’s unique blend is Southern Italian, a family recipe which will leave you with the hypnotising aroma of this fine blend of fresh coffee.

Along with selling fresh coffee, they also offer hot herbal teas, ice cold herbal teas, Italian ice cream, and a new product from Italy called Crema Caffe.

What is unique and sets Damn Fine Roasters apart, is that it will be the first drive thru coffee shop in Canberra, strategically positioned at Westside Acton Park to be able to operate from dusk till dawn.

Aviary (rooftop bar)

This ground-breaking rooftop bar is Canberra’s first sky high saloon, the perfect place to drink in views of the city skyline while you, well, drink in! The entire structure has been designed from the ground up (literally!) with custom furniture made from recycled wooden pallets complementing the ecological feel of the garden bar.

The panoramic windows provide spectacular views of Black Mountain Tower, the National Galley, Parliament House and many of Canberra’s most famous landmarks, all while you sample a bespoke menu of crisp cocktails, craft beers, side by side with both the best of local and imported beverages to suit everyone’s tastes.

Located on Barrine Drive in Acton, Westside Acton Park will officially open on Saturday 14 March 2015.

Want more information on the Canberra shipping container village? Check out the website and Facebook page.

Are you on social media? Check out my latest updates on every dish that’s worth eating in Canberra and beyond! Facebook : /thefoodavenue Instagram: @thefoodavenue Twitter: @thefoodavenue

Saigon rolls on the Southside! (Mawson, Canberra)

As you may know, I'm always on the lookout for saigon rolls (banh mi) and I discovered a small bakery in Mawson that sells them (thank goodness the signage caught my eye)! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The ingredients are fresh and I love the pickling of the carrot. They're generous with the condiments (pate and mayo), which means the roll isn't dry. Hooray!

The chilli is uber hot though, so I'd watch out for that if you can't handle your chilli! All in all, a definite winner in my books!

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It seems like saigon rolls are everywhere, if you know where to look!

Saigon rolls (banh mi) in Civic!

Colleagues of mine love going to iPho, a Vietnamese place in Garema Place for lunch. After huge reviews of the crispy skin chicken (nicknamed "CSC" for short), I decided I had to try out the CSC for myself. I wasn't disappointed - as you can see from the photo. The dish definitely lived up to its name! But this post isn't about the CSC, it's about my discovery of saigon rolls in civic! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was getting my CSC, I discovered that they had started selling saigon rolls (banh mi)! At $8 each, it costs a bit more than at Saigon Fresh in Gungahlin, but I've been waiting waaay too long for them to open a more easily accessible store in civic. So I had to go back the following day and test it out.

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It's a decent size roll, slightly dry at first but if you eat in, you can use the sauces provided on the table to add some extra flavor to the roll. A splash of soy and fish sauce was the kick it needed. iPho were generous with the pork liver pate and the chilli was very mild, perfect for chilli wusses like me! So now I can get my saigon roll fix whenever I want! :)

IPho

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My best food scout was doing his usual patrols and noticed that a Vietnamese restaurant had opened in Garema Place so we had to check it out.

Pork and prawn rice paper rolls: $5

The dish photographed way better than it tasted. Each roll was fairly large but consisted mostly of chopped lettuce and I could not taste any fragrant Vietnamese herbs. About halfway into the roll, I noticed a discoloured piece of lettuce...oh wait, nope. It was a sliver of sliced pork that was stuck onto the lettuce. The pork was sliced so thinly (and only one slice in the roll) that I couldn't even taste the pork. It would have been preferable to have a much smaller roll with better pork/prawn to lettuce ratio.

Rare beef noodle soup: $11.50

First things first, I've had much better pho than this. It's the broth that makes it for me and this one was underwhelming in flavour and overwhelming in the amount of oil layered on top of the soup. For some reason, the soup wasn't particularly hot either. I like my hot soups to be hot, especially when I've made the effort to brave the chilly Canberra weather.

On the bright side, there was a decent amount of beef and I enjoyed the crunch of the freshly sliced onion. I also have to give credit for the variety of sauces available on each table (hoisin, chilli sauce, fish sauce). I did also like that the pho was accompanied by the usual plate of bean sprouts, chilli and very fragrant basil.

This place may still be settling in as it has only been open a week or so but given the central location and the lack of Vietnamese places on offer in the Civic area, there may not be much incentive to lift the quality of the food.

Food Avenue Rating: 5.5/10

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