Showing posts with label Vietnamese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnamese. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Catering exclusively for the CBD lunch crowd, Paperboy is a new and very well regarded arrival on the Melbourne dining scene. When Libby suggested that we catch up there for lunch, there was every reason to go with the promise of good food 

Paperboy Kitchen
We headed there early to avoid the lunchtime crowd, and were rewarded with a relatively empty restaurant. 

Paperboy Kitchen
There are only a few seating areas, so I guess that Paperboy caters more towards take-away than dine-in, but I've always preferred the luxury of settling down and experiencing the atmosphere of a restaurant. 

The menu itself is relatively simplistic; rolls and bowls are the only mains on offer. You choose whether you want a roll or a rice noodle bowl, and then choose your topping. BBQ chicken, panko fish, pulled lamb, slow-cooked beef and red-curry cauliflower are the options and all come with asian slaw, carrot-daikon pickle, sriracha-mayo and coriander.

Libby and I made our choices and sat down by the window with this cute order number for company. 

Order 'number'
So not really a number, but a pretty unique identifier to help the waitstaff figure out which order belongs to who. After an incredibly short wait of around 5 minutes, our meals were on the table. 

I'd ordered the pulled lamb & hoisin rice noodle bowl.  

Pulled Lamb & Hoisin Rice Noodle Bowl
The meal was satisfying although not spectacular in my opinion. The serving was of a decent size and they were fairly generous with the meat, but I felt there was too much reliance on the sauces to add flavour rather than doing something interesting with the meat. The noodles themselves were cooked well though being neither soggy nor too crunchy. The popcorn on the side was a eccentric touch but welcome and memorable nevertheless. 

Slow Cooked Beef Rice Noodle Bowl
Libby ordered the slow cooked beef bowl and also seemed satisfied with her order. I took a bite and found that the beef too suffered from a lack of flavoured, but the sauces and the pho dipper (a little mug of pho-broth-style soup) made up for it. 

No restaurant in Melbourne would be complete with some caffeinated offering, and Paperboy Kitchen delivers with Vietnamese style iced coffee. Perfect for a summer day (although maybe not the almost-winter that this autumn has been).

Viet Iced Coffee
Paperboy Kitchen is a welcome addition to the fairly lackluster, west-side CBD lunchtime dining scene and serves up filling dishes in record time. The meats themselves could do with an injection of flavour, and I would expect more for $9-$13.5 a meal. Still, with friendly and fast service and a hard-to-mess-up offering, it's not a bad lunchtime option.

320 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Mon-Fri 1130am-3pm

Paperboy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pho 2000

When you move into a new city, there are certain things people tell you; remember to tip pretty much everyone, the public transport isn't good enough (don't worry, I come from a city where it's worse), there are four seasons in one day so dress accordingly (or don't worry about it because you come from Melbourne) and don't go near the Tenderloin.

Out of those four points, I've taken about 1.5 of them on board. The 0.5 is regarding the Tenderloin - I've ventured there during the day and come out unscathed and with a fully belly to show for my courage. But really, it's not too bad - the signs of poverty are unsettling, but the people mostly keep to themselves. 

Returning to my food blogger roots though, there's some very good and cheap Vietnamese food there. While Turtle is arguably the place to go for chicken pho, Pho 2000 does more than a decent job of dishing out enormous bowls of comforting rice noodles, slick in meaty broth and containing all manner of interesting ingredients.

When I say enormous, I mean the bowls are ridiculously big. This is a regular sized portion.

Beef Pho
My belly hasn't shrunk to the point where it can't handle the amount of food, and indeed, was able to help a friend out when he wasn't up to the task, but there's not much need to order the large serving, especially if you're ordering appetisers.

I have had better pho, but the offerings here were better than average and definitely had a generous amount of meat. I like having as many different ingredients in my pho as I can, so the option of having brisket, tripe, tendon and flank seemed pretty great to me.

I made a point to return to Pho 2000 a few weeks after my first visit because the pho craving had hit, and nothing but a large bowl served up very quickly would do. Pho 2000 passed that criteria with flying colours. Standard service would be a slight let-down in most cases, but we aren't in the most refined part of the city and that's ok with me.

Pho 2000
637 Larkin St, San Francisco
Wed-Mon 830am-830pm, Tue Closed

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cilantro Star

Seeing as I'm leaving Melbourne soon, it seems only fair that I make the most of my time here. That means lots of eating out - mostly at places I know I'll miss, but I did make some time to satisfy my pho craving to stop by Cilantro Star for a lunch catch-up with a friend. 

Of course, as I had a million and one things on my mind due to the impending move, I forgot my camera and so had to use my sub-par iPhone camera instead.

Pho Accompaniments
Thankfully, the food was decent enough to lift my gloomy mood that was partially influenced by the overcast and drizzly day. To kick things off, we ordered a plate of the chicken spring rolls to share.

Chicken Spring Rolls
The sauce was uninspiring, but the spring rolls were of a decent size with a generous amount of meat, and nicely crunchy. There may have been slightly too much oil, but it wasn't annoyingly greasy. The star of the show was of course big bowls of pho, full of thick rice noodles, chunks of beef and chicken, and a flavourful broth.

Beef and Chicken Pho
The range of pho varieties available is heavily limited; beef, chicken and beef + chicken pho are on the menu rather than the incredible selection available at many other restaurants (brisket, tendons, tongue etc.). Still, the bowl was richly satisfying and satisfied my craving for something to warm my belly. One quibble I had is that some of the flavour in the broth was likely due to MSG, rather than plenty of time and effort, but we all take short-cuts every once in a while. 

Cilantro Star doesn't serve the best Vietnamese food in Melbourne, and not even in the city, but it's  decent and conveniently located for those stuck on the West side of the city. Plus, the food comes out super-fast so it's perfect to fit into a busy lunch break where something comforting will hit exactly the right spot.

Cilantro Star
550 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Mon-Wed 9am-4pm, Thu-Fri 9am-11pm,Sat 6pm-11pm

Cilantro Star on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Indochine is a reliable staple in Box Hill that derives its name (I imagine) from Indochina, the former name of the area that now spans Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The food here definitely has more of a Vietnamese spin though with an extensive range of shared mains (from whole snapper to BBQ pork meatballs to gado gado), noodles (egg and rice based), rice, and of course bun (dry rice vermicelli) and pho (vermicelli soup) offered. 

I wasn't extremely hungry so was satisfied with ordering only a small rice dish. 

Char-Grilled Lemongrass Pork on Rice

Of course, the dish that came out was a little bigger than I remembered, but that's not a bad thing. The rice was unremarkable, and the chilli sauce was too sweet, but the meat was tender and juicy and I happily ate all of it up. 

M ordered what I've always thought of as an odd dish: Bun with char-grilled lemongrass beef with spring rolls. 

Bun with Char-Grilled Lemongrass Beef with Spring Rolls

The spring-rolls always seem like an afterthought to me, haphazardly thrown on as a finishing touch. I always find them too oily and too bland, and this dish was no different. The beef was slightly too dry as well, so I didn't like what little I had of this dish.  

So perhaps Indochine isn't 100% reliable, but at least it's filling and cheap, and from past experience, pretty accommodating of large groups. The service is fast, but I'm of the opinion there are plenty of interesting places to discover in Box Hill. If you're after 'safe' food though, then Indochine isn't a bad bet. 

51 Carrington Road, Box Hill
Sun-Thu 11am-3pm, 530pm-930pm,  Sat-Sun 11am-3pm, 530-10pm

Indochine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop

Friends leaving for new lives interstate and overseas is both exciting (for them) as they have a new world of opportunities open to them, but sad (for those of us remaining) as when and where our next meeting will be is uncertain and time is measure in years and decades rather than months.  

But whatever the reason, it's always nice to catch up with friends for dinner. This time we chose somewhere we were familiar with and seemed suitable for a rainy and windy Melbourne summer day: Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop. 

Surprisingly, even though we were at one of the best pho restaurants in the city (which has the added bonus of being away from the hectic nature of Swanston St), two of our party didn't order pho. Sacrilege!   

Instead they ordered Bun with spring rolls; and crispy chicken with tomato rice.  

Bun with Spring Rolls
Bun is Vietnamese for rice vermicelli, so what arrived was a dish of rice vermicelli, without soup, topped with assorted vegetables and many mini spring rolls. I believe they were pork but as I didn't get the chance to try one, I can't be sure. Decent value and filling and quite tasty from what I gather.

A similar story with the crispy chicken with tomato rice.  

Crispy Chicken with Tomato Rice
No prizes for presentation, but it was consumed pretty fast. The thought of tomato rice is still somewhat strange to me, but I suppose it would be slightly sweet and salty? Maybe I should just try it for myself. 

I'll have to get over my fixation with their beef combination pho first though.

Beef Combination Pho
I love the random bits of just-cooked beef - interesting and all delicious. I've had better broth with more flavour but the noodles were well cooked with a great texture.

The food at Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop is tasty, cheap and filling and the staff are slightly friendlier than the other Vietnamese restaurants in the city. I'm guessing that being a little less busy would have something to do with it. If you get hit by a pho craving while in the city, my advice is to avoid the popular restaurants in Swanston St and take the time to venture into this establishment instead. 

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop
234 Russell St, Melbourne
Mon-Sun 9am-10pm

Pho Dzung City Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam

I took a few days off work to recharge and spend time with the boy and came back feeling happy, and with a slightly altered perspective (who said time-off couldn't help). Work isn't as crazy-stressful, even though it's just as busy, and there's light at the end of this busy-period tunnel.

Unfortunately, M is just as busy (if not busier) than I am, and so it ended up that our usual stay-in dinner night needed to be converted into a quick and early dinner. We ultimately decided on Pho, and Mekong on Swanston St is consistently reliable. There are some bad reviews floating around (which seem to center on issues in 2008/2009), but I've never had a bad experience here.

There's not much that needs to be looked at on the menu other than Pho - it's what they do well. The noodles are fresh and are cooked well, in a delicious soup that's full of flavour yet well balanced.

Fresh Chillies
No matter how good a bowl of Pho is though, I will always add fresh chillies if they're available - how can I resist when they shiny and promise so much spice? 

Beef Brisket Pho
 I love my beef brisket pho, and rarely order any other type. The meat is tender and with just the right amount of fat. M ordered the Beef Special Pho, probably because he wanted more variety; beef brisket (of course), normal slices of beef, beef balls and all manner of various cuts of beef.

Beef Special Pho
Their other dishes aren't so great though - on this occasion we ordered a serve of chicken and prawn rice paper rolls that were bland, dry, and lacking in both chicken and prawns.

Chicken and Prawn Rice Paper Rolls
Those prawns are tiny! Oh well. Did I mention that meals come out extremely fast? Always good for when you're short on time. The downside to this restaurant is their attitude towards customers; there to be fed, to receive money from, and then to rush out the door to make way for the next set. I didn't like be crammed onto a table with complete strangers even though there were free tables elsewhere. The wait staff aren't friendly but are efficient. I've given up expecting them to crack a smile, even though I've been here quite a few times now. 

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam; good for pho, but not much else.

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam
241 Swanston St, Melbourne
Sun 10am-10pm, Mon-Sat 9am-10pm

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam on Urbanspoon