TIEN’S HOT BREAD on the surface is a plain and simple town bakery in the centre of Dee Why on the Northern Beaches. It’s been there forever, never been renovated, makes your weekend loaves, never went gourmet, sourdough or seventeen versions of grain that is or is not paleo and/or gluten free. They make decent soft rolls, sell your finger buns for the kids and other little bakery delights. So who gives a hoot, why would this even demand being reviewed or added to Urbanspoon by this belly increasing food blogger? Because of a unique part of this bakery; the Vietnamese and Cambodian inspired rolls.
Tien’s (I am pretty sure) is run by generations of the same family and this generational shop running and their specialised rolls and their soft dinner rolls have made them a Northern Beaches institution – while I have been posting pictures of my individual rolls on Instagram friends of mine living in other states now have all been reminiscing of the joy they have had with a Tien’s roll. I may even get in trouble for outing the store on a place like Urbanspoon, maybe like the Illuminati society this was a place discovered by chance or a secret wink at a certain time of the day in a corner of a fountain of the local park. Maybe Tien’s is not meant to be shared.
Lila is the secret weapon of the shop, she makes all the Cambodian food and she doesn’t make it in bulk, it is literally enough to fill a small bain-marie in the front of the shop, a bain-marie that has seen better days, and when it is gone it has run out. There are Cambodian meatballs, my favourite, Cambodian pork and lemongrass, satay pork and/or chicken, and other varieties, they make a hell of a lot of different rolls, even the famous chicken roll that is publicly endorsed on a sign by Masterchef hero and local awesome-dude, Hayden Quinn, he loves Lila and the rolls. The flavours are insane and the varieties and price is what makes them ideal, they are all $5-, nothing more for the more complex flavours, they are on the same roll, no doubt made fresh in their bakery and they all get the cucumber, coriander, carrot, special mayo, and offer of chilli – something that you MUST say yes to.
Teen’s Hot Bread is an old run down venue, do not judge the “book” by its cover, this is a secret find and filled with secret goodness. It is food made with love and Cambodian culture and it is the uniqueness of this that sets them apart from every Vietnamese bakery in Australia. You can still get your standard cold-meat Vietnamese rolls from them and you may even lean towards ordering that as the bain-marie looks close to unhygienic but trust me – when the lovely grandma (could this be the famous Lila?) bluntly asks you what you want, get the most oiliest looking Cambodian delight in your roll, or try the Hayden worshipped Chicken Roll. Grab yourself a cold drink from the fridge and some soft dinner rolls for taking home, then drive to the end of the road, and sit on the edge of Dee Why beach and let your tastebuds be tantalised while inhaling the salt air and absorbing some vitamin rays from the sun in this perfect part of the world.
Apologies to the locals if I have outed this hole in the wall secret venue of delectable nomnoms but something this awesome needs accolades and love.
Score: Service 5 spoons, Food 5 spoons, Cost 5 spoons and Venue, 2 spoons. Total………………….