As the only Asian grocer in the Blue Mountains and with the most delicious Vietnamese lunch offerings, The Laughing Elephant makes the locals very happy.
Sydneysiders don’t know how good they’ve got it with Asian grocers stationed on just about every block in some Sydney suburbs. Here in the Blue Mountains we have only one specialist Asian grocer, and it is based in Wentworth Falls.
The Laughing Elephant was originally called Saigon Sandwich, but owners of four years Mirella and Wendy changed the name to inject a bit of humour and happiness into the business. You can see their influence in the chalk-boarded quips around the store and in the quirky trinkets and charms dangling from the packed shelves.
Not only does The Laughing Elephant stock an excellent range of Asian food products covering Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Indonesian cuisine (cooking utensils and fresh ingredients such as rice noodles and Asian greens and herbs are also available), it also offers lunch daily between 10am and 2pm, and this is one of the main reasons I find myself here on a very regular basis.
In the warmer months we like to drop in and pick up some Vietnamese rice paper rolls (gluten free) filled with either local free-range pork, tofu or free-range chicken and other salady things – just $8.50 for a packet of three plus 50c for the essential fresh-made dipping sauce – and drive around the corner to Wentworth Falls Lake to devour them.
When winter sets in and this warmth-dependent ritual is off the cards I order a steaming hot cup of pho $8/$9 – Vietnamese noodle soup – and eat in, sitting at the little bench along the window of the shop (there is also seating outside). The Laughing Elephant’s pho is heaven in a cup – linguine-like rice noodles swim in a salty broth, mingling with chunks of pork and chicken (or tofu if you prefer) and discs of crunchy lotus root, while little flavour surprises of fried chilli, sesame seeds and Thai basil burst through every mouthful. I find myself disappearing into a kind of trance when eating this and, after slurping down the last bits, usually feel the need to reflect for moment on what just happened. It is that good!
The Vietnamese pork rolls (banh mi) $8.50/$10.50, I’m told, are fantastic, and you can have these with chicken or tofu as well. In the warmer months the pho is dropped from the menu, replaced with a ‘Happy Salad’ – a bowl of completely raw Asian salad ingredients with a smile-inducing sprinkle of chia seeds. The sound of this makes the thought of saying goodbye to the pho a little bit easier.
It may not be on the corner of the block (unless you’re in downtown Wenty), but Blue Mountains folk still have it pretty good with The Laughing Elephant being just a short drive away. Sydneysiders don’t know what they’re missing out on.
- Address: Shop 31/28–30 Station Street, Wentworth Falls NSW 2782
- Phone: (02) 4757 4610
- Opening hours: Mon–Fri 9am–5pm, Sat 9am–4pm, Sun & public holidays 10am–2.30pm
- Prices: Lunch $8.50 –$10.50
- Cuisine: Vietnamese (plus Asian groceries)
- Licensed: No
- Bookings: No
- Views: No
- Wheelchair access: Yes
- Cards accepted: All cards except Amex