A famous pork roll joint in Mascot. Who would have thought? I didn't even know it existed until 2011 when my date at the time mentioned that this joint was much better than all the pork roll shops in Cabramatta. Say it isn't so! Not long after, I found a few articles about the same pork roll shop in various food and lifestyle mags, websites and food blog reviews. Since then, it has been on my wishlist for a freaking long time. There has to be something special about those pork rolls that gets every pork roll lover lining up even before opening time at 6am! (Many thanks to my colleague for sharing that story btw :)).
After countless times getting asked to check Hong Ha from V, I finally found the time to visit this part of Sydney after getting the massive cravings. Not surprisingly there was that inevitable queue when I arrived in front of this tiny but incredibly busy shop. If you are impatient like myself, never fear! The queues actually went by pretty fast that I was still somewhat indecisive when it was my turn to order.
While the sign itself has been updated compared to how it appeared in past reviews, the fitout has that old school appeal that was most likely the same when it opened more than 20 years ago. Pretty much your typical pork roll shop with all the condiments laid out at the frot (the cheese was interesting though). While the service can be abrupt and blunt, they were all super quick so you can get your pork roll fast after waiting in that infamous queue.
Pork Roll ($5.00)
Ordered a pork roll and a chicken roll because I had no idea when I will be there next. The bread roll was crispier and crustier compared to the ones I've had another pork roll joints but it was also quite soft on the inside. This worked out well since it was still not soggy after leaving it for a while when I finished it up later that day. Some of the rolls I've had at Cabra had way too much bread and not enough fillings so it was good to see that Hong Ha ensures that the fillings were balanced out. Along with the thin slices of pork meat and the generous amount of fillings (including pickled carrot, onion, coriander, cucumber and soy sauce), there was a decent serving of mayo an pâté which was definitely the highlight for me. Plus the soy sauce did not overpower the flavour which can be the case for many pork rolls I've tried in the past. I also asked for the optional chilli but it ended up being too spicy for me after multiple bites.
Chicken Roll ($5.00)
Sorry about the photo. Was so hungry when I got my hands on this roll that I forgot to take a proper pic. The chicken roll that I tried later was also good as well especially after hearing the hype from other foodies (apart from V who wasn't a fan). The combined use of shredded boiled and cooked chicken packed into the bread roll stood out from the other chicken rolls that I've tried elsewhere. While I personally prefer the pork roll in terms of taste and flavour, the chicken roll at Hong Ha is certainly a winner so far.
Is Hong Ha the best Vietnamese pork/chicken roll shop in Sydney? Well it really depends on what you prefer. Personally I think Hong Ha is as good as Marrickville Pork Roll but (gasp) I also found it to be better than most of the ones I've had in Cabramatta - mainly for the generous fillings and that freshly baked and crusty bread (though Vinata and KK Bakery remain as my local faves). On the other hand, it was also slightly pricier than the local Cabra pork roll shop (some of my friends are still reminiscing the days when those rolls only cost $2). If I live closer to Mascot, I can definitely see myself as a regular here whenever I get my pork roll cravings. And Hong Ha sells spring rolls too if they floats your boat.