Quality Starts At The Source – An Authentic Taste of Vietnam

While they all come from different backgrounds and specialise in a variety of cuisines from Italian to Japanese, Southeast Asian to modern Australian, the one thing that The Star’s team of talented and passionate chefs have in common is their love for using premium quality, sustainable and local produce.

In this edition, we speak to Executive Chef of Fat Noodle, Luke Nguyen about his favourite place to pick up the the best – and freshest – Asian produce.

A steaming hot bowl of pho, a crunchy fresh rice paper roll filled with crispy caramelised chicken, a sizzling plate of garlicky chilli prawns – the kitchens at Fat Noodle at The Star Sydney and Treasury Brisbane delivers a seemingly effortless menu of street food-style eats full of authentic Southeast Asian flavour and spice.

But what many of Fat Noodle’s guests don’t see is the care and attention that goes into bringing to life traditional Vietnamese culinary culture in the heart of the entertainment precinct.

And, for Luke Nguyen, Executive Chef of Fat Noodle at The Star Sydney and Treasury Brisbane, there’s only one place that consistently delivers the freshest, best quality produce, ingredients and aromatics for cooking up a taste of Vietnam – his home suburb of Cabramatta.

“Cabramatta for me, is like being in Vietnam. It’s busy, colourful, full of hustle and bustle, full of people,” says Nguyen.

“It’s where I grew up, its where my parents had a restaurant a few doors down and my childhood best friend Thai’s parents set up a supermarket, Eastland, that used to supply all of the produce for our family restaurant.”

Chef Luke Nguyen
Chef Luke Nguyen in the Fat Noodle Kitchen

Now, whenever he’s looking for an authentic taste of Vietnam, the first place Luke goes for ingredients is Eastland Supermarket in the heart of Cabramatta. Owned by Luke’s best friend, it has become a local institution – serving up locally grown produce, beautiful spices and a vast array of hard-to-find Southeast Asian delicacies.

“Thai Tran is one of my best friends. His family and my family fled Vietnam together in the late 70s, and Thai and I grew up in the same refugee camp. So of course, whenever I’m looking for fresh produce, I call Thai. All the fresh herbs, all the spices, all the aromats I use – they all come from Thai and Eastland Supermarket.”

“What I love is they bring everything fresh every day, so you know it’s amazing. And, Thai and I just get each other – we have a great connection, we have a great history, and we have a great passion for food.”

It’s these trusty ingredients from Eastland that Luke has been used for almost a decade at Fat Noodle – where simple, homestyle meals are cooked to perfection.

Chef Luke Nguyen in Fat Noodle Kitchen
Chef Luke Nguyen in the Fat Noodle Kitchen

“For me, our dishes at Fat Noodle must speak to culture and to the stories of the generations
before us who have created them.” The key? Authentic, high-quality produce that lets the dish speak for itself.

The perfect example of this is in Fat Noodle’s Seafood in Tamarind Broth, a light fish curry-style dish that pairs freshly caught halibut fillet, king prawn and diamond clams with fresh vegetables, herbs and aromatics.

“We have the beautiful fresh seafood that you don’t want to do too much to, perfectly cooked. Then you have the fresh ingredients that brings it all together – the diced pineapple and tomato. It’s so vibrant and fresh – and it all comes from the produce. That’s what makes a great dish.”

Sample the freshest Vietnamese produce in Sydney for yourself by booking at table at Fat Noodle today.