Angie Schiavone

The area is part of the City of Fairfield and has a large number of first and second-generation Vietnamese migrants. Unsurprisingly, it's that cuisine which dominates the strip, including a string of old faithful eateries and no-frills joints that may seem carbon-copy familiar but are safe bets for a good feed: Thanh Mai; Tan Viet; and Gia Hoi among them.

There are plenty of fresh new venues sandwiched between the discount shops and fruit markets, too. This new wave of more upmarket restaurants started about four years ago with the arrival of Holy Basil – a flash, family-run Thai and Lao restaurant – and the scene has continued to flourish. The offerings get more diverse at the Canley Heights end of the street, where the blueprint is modern decor and classic, crowd-pleasing menus.

OLD SCHOOL

Old-school inspiration ... The deep-fried golden gaytime at What the Fudge. Click for more photos

Eat Street: Canley Vale Road's hot spots

Old-school inspiration ... The deep-fried golden gaytime at What the Fudge. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Feel free to take it literally when we say it's the old-school eateries that shine brightest at the Canley Vale end of Canley Vale Road, at least in the case of 13-year-old Hai Au Lang Nuong, where neon lights cast a kitschy retro hue over the crowd feasting on Vietnamese food. The regular menu has plenty of knockout dishes (one being ca kho, caramelised claypot fish) but it's the coal-barbecue roasted dishes served Friday to Monday that really seal the deal: try suckling pig, or the organic chicken with sticky rice.

Another old-school winner is Nguyen Hot Bread, where the banh mi thit – baguette with pork – is the big hit. It's a fairly grungy looking shopfront, but the $4 roll with pate, pork, pickled veg, chilli, and coriander is fresh and full of flavour – the perfect grab-and-go meal.

Hai Au Lang Nuong, Shop 2, 48 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale, 02 9724 9156
Nguyen Hot Bread, 33 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale 

Thanh Mai, 252 Canley Vale Rd, 02 9726 6883
Tan Viet, Shop 3, 219 Canley Vale Rd, 02 9723 4452
Gia Hoi, 230 Canley Vale Rd, 02 9723 7324

NEW SCHOOL

The scene at the Canley Heights end of the strip is younger, flashier, busier and more diverse in terms of cuisines on offer. One of the crowd favourites is Holy Basil, serving Thai and Lao food (and a legendary fried ice-cream dessert). The four-year-old restaurant underwent a renovation and expansion in March, taking over neighbouring Le Caravelle in the process.

Another recently renovated favourite is Bau Truong (part of a trio that also includes branches at Cabramatta and Marrickville), where the massive savoury Vietnamese pancake is as eye-catching as the brightly coloured interior, complete with huge ceiling mural.

If it's Japanese you crave, Fat Panda ticks all the boxes with a sushi train, teppanyaki grill and a la carte menu, looking coolly minimalist all the while with its black-on-black decor. And a couple of doors up, the menu at Korean restaurant La Grilla includes a few Mex-Korean fusion dishes (think bulgogi tacos) alongside more traditional dishes.

Across the road – with a Canley Vale Road address but an entry on Derby Street – is the biggest and slickest of them all: Chi and Co. The warehouse-conversion (think polished concrete, exposed brick, soaring ceiling) doubles as a cocktail bar and modern Asian restaurant. Highlights include the prawn and pork-stuffed fried eggplant, and XO-sauce topped son-in-law eggs.

Holy Basil, 233a Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9727 7585
Bau Truong, 250 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9755 7099
Fat Panda, 233c Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9755 4888
La Grilla, Shop 2, 237 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9724 5452
Chi and Co, Shop 3, 264 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9727 2068

PHO CHALLENGE

Those with a monster appetite should take note of the pho-eating challenge at Huong Xua. Polish off one of the mammoth bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup here (broth, noodles, and a good half-kilo of beef) in 11-minutes or less, and the reward is, it's on the house and the bowl itself is yours to keep. The current record is an insane 6 minutes and 5 seconds. Of course, you can always choose to pay for your meal and take the time to enjoy – and perhaps even chew – it.

Huong Xua, Shop 4, 219 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 8764 4117

SUGAR HITS

Sure, you can get your waffles and super-sized sundaes at What the Fudge, a cafe and dessert house that's chock-full of chocoholics. But the most popular item on the menu is the dieter's worst nightmare: a deep-fried, pastry-wrapped, Golden Gaytime ice-cream. If the few strawberries on the plate aren't enough to alleviate the guilt, consider the "churros for 1" with a small pot of melted milk chocolate instead.

Vy Vy Garden is one of a few Vietnamese cafes on the strip – all of which are crowded, mainly with men deep in conversation. The strong Vietnamese iced coffee is a guaranteed pick-me-up, served in a tall glass, on ice. It might even give you enough pep to join in on the Tuesday night karaoke session.

What the Fudge, 278a Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 9727 6712
Vy Vy Garden, 226 Canley Vale Road, Canley Heights, 02 8764 8223