When Broadsheet arrives in the suburb that’s often dubbed one of the most multicultural places in Australia the weekly call to prayer has just ended at the Masjid Al-Taqwa mosque, and the neighbourhood is pulsing. There’s animated conversations and gossip being exchanged of course, but most importantly, there’s also eating.
Along with the nearby areas Girrawheen and Malaga, Mirrabooka is one of the most remarkable culinary destinations in Western Australia. In terms of ethnic diversity, it’s a world away from Perth’s more rarified western suburbs and shows how the city as a whole is quietly evolving to become a more global and polyglot place.
The blisteringly good local food scene is best on display at Mirrabooka Village, a low-rise shopping centre adjoining the mosque. These three neighbouring restaurants – two family-run Vietnamese restaurants and an Afghani-slash-Pakistani diner – offer a perfect taste of the suburb.
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Hu Tieu Thanh Liem
There are lots of fantastic Vietnamese restaurants in both Mirrabooka and neighbouring Girrawheen, but we hold a torch for Hu Tieu Thanh Liem. The restaurant is run by Kim Leong, who is the second generation of her family to open a Vietnamese restaurant in Australia. (Her parents opened Viet Trung in Sydney’s Cabramatta in 1993.)
Hu Tieu Thanh Liem specialises in south Vietnamese dishes like com tam (broken rice) served with grilled pork. “In northern Vietnam com tam is served to the pigs, but in the south it’s a delicacy,” Leong explains.
We’re big fans of the chao goi vit too, a heartwarming porridge that’s loaded with ginger, coriander and fried onions, and served with duck salad. Also recommended: the banh xeo (savoury pancake) and the canh ga don thit (chicken wings stuffed with pork and vegetables).
73 Honeywell Boulevard, Mirrabooka Village
(08) 9248 2612
Afghani Kebab House
Mohammed Fayazi – the chef and owner of Afghani Kebab House – was born in Afghanistan but moved to Pakistan “because of the fighting”, before finally emigrating to Australia a decade ago.
His cooking reflects his peripatetic life. Bubbling lamb curries (“these are very Afghanistan,” he explains) sit alongside Pakistani biryanis and a delicious stuffed Afghan bread known as bolani.
A particular favourite is the kabuli palaw, a fragrant and juicy lamb shank served on a bed of aromatic rice, sprinkled with sultanas and carrots. Scoop it up with scrumptious Afghan bread fresh from the clay tandoor oven and finish with a cup of sugary tea.
14/73 Honeywell Boulevard, Mirrabooka Village
0470 303 484
Mon to Sun 11am–8pm
You’re sure to find a warm welcome in this ramshackle gem, where Anne and her husband Chung greet you with big smiles and delectable traditional banh mi.
Ben Thanh began in 2005 when the couple began selling their Vietnamese fare, renting half of a fish’n’chip shop from the existing owners. In a sign of Western Australia’s changing culture, the chippy is now closed and Ben Thanh uses the entire space to sell its banh mi.
There’s only a handful of items on the menu: three different banh mi ring in at just $5 each and come with crispy grilled bread, all the fixings plus a protein choice of pork, chicken or sardine (a firm favourite among local observant Muslims). The pork roll is particularly impressive and, when you order, Anne will tell you how she lovingly roasts the pork and slathers it in pate, pork gravy and mayo.
There’s also a delightful sugar cane juice hand-pressed on a geriatric roller and topped with fresh cumquat. (“All natural,” she proudly points out.)
4/73 Honeywell Boulevard, Mirrabooka Village
(08) 9248 8903
Wed to Sun 7am–5pm