The sort of food you buy on the side of the street in Vietnam and eat sitting perched on tiny plastic stools is pretty popular in Melbourne right now. I’m not talking about your traditional Vietnamese restaurants along Victoria street in Richmond or out in little Saigon in Footscray, but instead the new wave of stylishly decked out no bookings places where people queue out the door for rice paper rolls or a soft shell crab salad. They’re a modern take on hawker style food and it seems like Melbourne can’t get enough of them. Here are my tips for the best places to go:
Sydney’s Vietnamese “tuck shop” Miss Chu has just opened it’s second Melbourne store in South Yarra and the crowds are already gathering. I think Miss Chu is the best of the bunch. It’s got a fun, casual atmosphere and the place is unpretentious. Miss Chu bills itself as the “Queen”of rice paper rolls and they may just have a point. The rolls ($7.50 for two) are super fresh and have great fillings – like tiger prawns with green mango or the rather untraditional omelette with caramalised onions. Miss Chu doesn’t limit itself to purely Vietnamese fare and you can get very reasonably priced Peking Duck pancakes ($3.50 a pop).
|Omelette rice paper rolls at Miss Chu|
Details: Miss Chu, 297 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph 02 9077 1097) or 276 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve.
2. Hannoi Hannah
Hannoi Hannah which opened in Prahran this year is a bit more expensive than Miss Chu and Roll’d and has more of a restaurant atmosphere with proper crockery and food nicely plated. Rice paper rolls here are $5 each and pho edges up to $9. There’s a great lightly battered soft shell crab ($11) and the menu takes even more liberties with what can be classified as Vietnamese hawker food – pork belly sliders made with anyone? However service leaves a lot to be desired with staff’s most frequent answer being “no”, “no” there is no knife in the entire restaurant to divide a dish up and “no” to splitting the bill.
Details: Hannoi Hannah, 180 High Street Prahran 3181 (Ph 03 9939 5181)
Roll’d is the Vietnamese street food place I go to the most but that’s just because it’s the most convenient to work rather than Roll’d being any better than the rest. The food at Roll’d is a bit of a sanitised take on Vietnamese cuisine and the cafe doesn’t have the range of Miss Chu or Hanoi Hannah. It’s strictly a lunch time place and only offers rice paper rolls, pho and banh mi but it’s fresh, cheap and undeniably convenient. The rice paper rolls can err on the side of dryness at times but the clear, delicate stock which makes up the pho at Roll’d is a real winner.
|Pho and a rice paper roll at Roll’d|
Details: Roll’d, Goldsbrough Lane, 181 Williams St, Melbourne (Ph: 03 9600 1088) Open: Mon to Fri 11am–3pm
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Pho is $8.50.