A Family Business
The delicacies served at all Bau Truong restaurants are safely guarded recipes which stem from the fond childhood memories of a Vietnamese migrant, Bac Cang Nghieu.
Bac Cang grew up with the fragrant aroma of fermenting fish all around her. Her grandfather’s fish sauce manufacturing business was where she spent much of her childhood days. Fish sauce is of course, a crucial element in what defines Vietnamese cuisine.
Throughout the communist year in Vietnam, Bac Cang had a small business bottling and wholesaling fish sauce to the local market in Saigon. Here, she was inspired by the abundance of fresh produce at her fingertips.
During a time when eating out in Saigon was limited to the odd noodle stall or government run phở restaurants, Bac Cang’s cooking adventure was just getting started. She would often experiment with fusing French recipes with Asian ingredients and soon, this turned into a regular weekly dinner at her family home; one which her husband’s siblings relished.
As time went by, she began cooking for family birthday parties – which were not small affairs – catering for up to 80 people. It was only natural that next she would be asked to cook for wedding receptions, single-handedly cooking for groups of up to 150 people!
Bac Cang arrived in Sydney in 1990. Although with no formal culinary training, she began working as a cook at various Vietnamese restaurants in Cabramatta, including Bau Truong.
In 1995, with the support of her son, Michael, and her daughter, she took over Bau Truong, commencing the family’s journey as restaurateurs.
Bac Cang can still be found in the kitchens of Bau Truong today. Her strong desire to perfect recipes inspired by her memories of old Saigon and her grandmother’s cooking, is what stimulates Bau Truong’s success. The family is now shaping its fourth generation of involvement with the food industry. From their humble beginnings, they now operate three of Sydney’s leading Vietnamese restaurants.
What does ‘Bau Truong’ mean?
The word “Ong Bau” in Vietnamese means ‘organiser’ and is a common colloquial term for bookies. The nickname was given to Truong – a notorious bookmaker.
In 1992, Bac Cang was entrusted on to help Truong set up the original ‘Bau Truong’ restaurant in Belvedere Arcade, Cabramatta. By merging the word ‘Bau’ with his name, he set forward the name ‘Bau Truong’ which was meant to be a place where Truong could share a few drinks with his mates while enjoying some of his homeland cuisine.
However, it was Bac Cang’s recipes of grilled meats and her distinctive fish sauce vinaigrette which helped Bau Truong catch the attention of locals. The popularity of the foods served at Bau Truong soon meant it was not uncommon for there to be a queue stretching down John Street on the weekend, with hungry customers, waiting to satisfy their cravings for Bac Cang’s delectable cooking.
From its humble roots in Belvedere Arcade in Cabramatta, the name Bau Truong is nowadays synonymous with quality refined Vietnamese dining.
Bau Truong offers an authentic taste of Vietnam that is inspired by the old Saigon markets where head chef/owner, Bac Cang used to work.
The menu at the Cabramatta restaurant focus on home-style cooking that is rustic and hearty. Popular dishes here include delicacies such as com tam (broken rice with grilled Vietnamese pork chop), canh chua (sour soup) and bun mang vit (bamboo shoot noodle soup with duck salad and ginger dressing).
The newly opened Marrickville restaurant is a little more refined – perfect for a night out with family or friends. Highlights on the menu include exquisite golden fried soft shell crab in a fruit tamarind glaze, smoked duck with a seasonal fruit salad and prawns stir-fried in a chilli basil sauce with crispy Vietnamese rice bubbles and okra!