My friend and I have made a tradition out of meeting up for Friday lunches, usually we eat Asian food because it is cheaper, generally faster and sometimes we just crave noodles and rice. So when I heard a new Vietnamese restaurant had opened up in the city, we had to go immediately. Bistro Nguyen’s is located on the corner of the Melbourne building near Nourthbourne Avenue and Alinga street. The decor is a mixture of different chairs matched with different tables, I didn’t trust the durability of the plastic stools at our table so I swapped them out for a metal ones.It was very busy during the Friday lunch rush, it was completely full inside so we took a table outside.I don’t know how I feel having all the mouth side parts of the utensil facing up, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?It is an ‘order and pay at the counter’ situation but not only that, the food is only delivered to the table whenever it is ready and not in any particular order, which meant that we received our the pho first and the grilled pork rolls and drinks last with a pretty decent waiting gap in between.
Grilled pork rolls Nguyen’s special grilled pork rice paper rolls with herbs and special dipping sauce (3 pieces $7.50). These were very disappointing rice paper rolls. There was no taste of herbs, you could barely taste the pork and the dipping sauce didn’t help either. The pork looked like processed brown meat that did not look grilled. I will not be ordering this again.Rare beef pho traditional beef noodle soup slow cooked with the heart and soul of Nguyen’s secret family recipe. A quintessential Vietnamese dish! ($12.50). I tasted my friend’s pho, it is sweeter than all the other broths that I’ve tried but still very flavoursome. At first my ‘very picky broth taster’ friend liked it, but towards the end she said that she could taste a lot of MSG and that she would not be ordering it again. I rather enjoyed the spoonful I had (being a less picky broth taster) and I would consider trying it next time.Pho served with all the garnishes.Saigon pork roll made fresh daily by our master baker. Saigon roll filled with pork belly, Vietnamese ham, home-made pate, mayo, pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander and a dash of soy sauce ($7.50). I would have usually gone straight for the pho but it was crazy hot out so I grabbed something more temperature appropriate. I’m surprised they let me order this considering I asked for the home-made pate to be omitted *gasp!* but even then they asked to clarify that I wanted to take the most ‘essential’ ingredient. All the meat looked processed and there was barely any in the roll, I liked the taste of the pickled carrot which was good because that was the only thing I could taste besides the crusty bread roll. I don’t know if they forgot the mayo because the whole thing felt pretty dry in my mouth, although I don’t know if this would have been any better if I had left the pate inside.I did consider picking out the chillis but they had no taste to them what so ever. Can you squint and see the meat inside the roll?Vietnamese black iced coffee ($4.00). It was definitely needed on this hot day. They didn’t have any smoothies available so I just stuck with water.We had a pretty cheap lunch but it wasn’t completely impressive. I don’t want to judge this place yet because I’ve eaten such a limited portion of what they offer. I would come back and have their pho and I’d also be interested to see how their stir fried/rice dishes are. Their menu covers a large range of Vietnamese dishes including pho, vermicelli, rice dishes, Saigon rolls and stir fries.
Venue: Bistro Nguyen’s
Address: 78-80 Alinga St Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6262 6888