Miss Van’s Street Food – Westside

We weren’t exactly starving but I was still keen on dragging my friends to Westside Acton Park and trying out Miss Van’s Street food which I had been waiting for weeks to open. I had been stalking their menu in anticipation of their opening and found it was a small but had precise flavours of Vietnam. I was hoping since that the menu is so refined that all the dishes that they prepare would be good.

Have you been to Westside Acton park yet?What would you choose from their menu?Beef Noodle Soup | Pho Our pho stock is cooked for a minimum of 24 hours following a closely guarded family recipe! We use only fresh noodles. All pho bowls are served with lime, thai basil, beanshoots, coriander and shallot, add your own sriracha, Miss Van’s chilli and garlic oil, fresh chilli and hoi sin. 

Rare beef noodle soup (pho tai) rare sliced marinated flank steak ($11.00). I had a spoonful of my friend’s soup and the broth was not oily or sweet but full off flavour with a slight chilli kick. I thought it was unusual that the beef wasn’t the thinly sliced stuff you get from an Asian grocer but rather more hand cut with additional beef chunks, despite the thicker cuts the beef was really tender. I probably would have ordered this if I didn’t have a big breakfast out and going straight to an afternoon tea, it would have also been a little harder to eat a noodle soup on low hipster seats.Check out the generous portions of beef!Vietnamese sandwich | Banh Mi our sandwich rolls are made on a signature Viet/French baguette, all banh mi served with whole egg ago, lightly pickled carrot, radish, coriander, soy sauce and chilli sauce. 

Chicken roll (banh mi ga) shredded chicken, confit shallot, house made pate ($7.00). I really liked the bread roll that they used, it had a crunchy exterior with a nice soft interior. Mmmm… My friend gave me all his coriander (yum!) so my view on this banh mi is a little biased. I’m not one for pate but I had it the way it was intended and it was really nice as it gave it an extra kick of salty goodness. When  I was ordering, they asked me if I wanted their homemade chilli that they said was hot, I asked for a little and it gave it a nice extra level of flavour. There was a tiny bit of gristle on the chicken but it didn’t ruin the bun as a whole.My friends ordered the pork roll.Soya bean milk homemade, infused with pandan leaf, lightly sweetened with palm sugar ($5.00). A subtle sweet drink with a hint of pandan after taste.Specials mini pork spring rolls ($5.00). Nice and hot crunchy spring rolls that are easy to share, too bad the specials menu are constantly being changed. 

I enjoyed the food that we shared from Miss Van’s, although the seating is a little harder to eat noodle soup. The food didn’t take that long to come and there are plenty of condiments for those who like their food nice and spicy.

Venue: Miss Van’s Street Food

Address: Westside Acton Park, Barrine Drive, Acton 2601

Opening times during Winter:

Wednesday – Saturday 12pm – late
Sunday 10am – 6pm

 

Miss Van's on Urbanspoon

 

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Pho hub

I convinced a close friend of mine to move our weekly lunch to a new location, not only was I hazy on the details like where it was exactly, but I had no idea where the best place to park was either.

Pho hub is a new a Vietnamese restaurant in the Belconnen area located across the mall on Benjamin Way near Remedy (by Lonsdale St Roasters). We both ended up parking in the Westfield mall and so did everyone else it seemed because it was nearly impossible to get a park Friday lunch time. Despite being very busy, we were seated straight away and given menus.Fresh rice paper rolls with duck goi cuon vit served with hoisin sauce (x2 $7.00). My friend was keen to order the lemongrass chicken in a fresh paper roll but they had accidentally given us the duck version but we were too hungry to care. We both found it very underwhelming as it was packed with noodles and lettuce but only had tiny torn scraps of mint, I expected much more herbs than that. I don’t think these were worth ordering.Hello, herbs? Anyone home?Garlic chicken wings canh ga chien toi (x4 $6.00). I really really like chicken wings and so I ordered the these; they sounded really delicious in theory but what we ended up getting was really just pan-fried chicken wings which might have had a sprinkle of garlic powder (?). The accompanying soy sauce was pretty sweet and despite all the little chunks of garlic in the sauce, it didn’t taste very garlicky but it did make the chicken wing taste better than without it. I still prefer the pan friend chicken wings at Tu do.Beef rice noodle soup (pho tai) sliced rare beef with rice noodle soup ($12.50 regular). One of us had to order the pho when the restaurant is called Pho hub! My friend ended up ordering this when I saw pork chops on the menu, I only tasted a spoonful of my friends pho and found the broth was very peppery and oily; not the best broth I’ve had at a restaurant (once you’ve tasted homemade you really cant’ go back) but the serve was a decent size.

Grilled pork chop with tomato rice (approx $12.50). I had high hopes for their pork chops being a Vietnamese restaurant. The pork chop itself, even in the thicker cut areas was very tender and moist although but not much flavour. The rice was okay, it was had a subtle tomato flavour that I doused in the fish sauce but I didn’t eat the cucumbers and tomatoes as they appeared to be cut a while ago and had a dry dehydrated look to them. I was a bit puzzled by the pickled vegetables but they were addictive despite being chilli hot.

My favourite pork chop it still from Can Tho (Michelle you must go!).     It was exciting to eat somewhere new and different and while the busy patronage gave us high hopes, we won’t be rushing back to Pho hub again. We are still in search of a decent authentic Vietnamese restaurant in Canberra.

 

Venue: Pho Hub

Address: 39 Benjamin Way, Belconnen ACT 2617

Phone02 6251 0367

Opening hours: Lunch 10am – 3pm daily

Dinner Sunday – Wednesday 5pm – 10pm

Thursday – Saturday 5pm – 10:30pm

Pho Hub on Urbanspoon

Bistro Nguyen’s

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.IMG_9915It was very busy during the Friday lunch rush, it was completely full inside so we took a table outside.IMG_9917I 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?IMG_9921It 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.IMG_9949IMG_9948Rare 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.IMG_9933Pho served with all the garnishes.IMG_9938Saigon 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.IMG_9943I 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?IMG_9947Vietnamese 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.IMG_9942We 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

Address78-80 Alinga St Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6262 6888

Bistro Nguyen's on Urbanspoon

Red Lantern on Riley

I knew after eating at Quay, the next meal would be really hard to top but Red Lantern in Surry Hills was very memorable and left me feeling excited for the next sequential dish when I thought I wasn’t that hungry.2015/01/img_9138.jpgA modern Asian feel inside. I loved the big centre table that we sat at.2015/01/img_9139.jpgMuc Rang Muoi lightly battered chilli salted squid with fresh lemon and white pepper dipping sauce ($24.50). I didn’t really bother with the dipping sauce as it was rather sour and I thought it was better without it. A very easy to eat dish, I didn’t think I was that hungry but after a bit of pecking, it was all gone.2015/01/img_9151.jpgCuon Thit Nuong soft rice paper rolls of char grilled honey pork neck and Vietnamese herbs ($30.00 for 5 rolls). These were rather quite small and they were filled with more noodles and less herbs than I’m used to. You could still taste the subtle flavours of the pork despite the noodle to everything else ratio. These are pricey when you usually see them at other restaurants at $2-4 a pop instead of $6.2015/01/img_9150.jpgBanh Xeo crisp rice flour crepe filled with master stock pork belly and tiger prawn, served with fresh herbs and lettuce to wrap ($29.50). I’ve eaten my fair share of Vietnamese pancakes but this by far was one of my favourites! The crepe was exceptionally crispy, the pork and prawns were nice but the herbs made the real impact. Despite constant dipping in the sauce, the crepe stayed crispy and added to the crunch along with the lettuce and bean sprouts. Next time I won’t share!2015/01/img_9155.jpg

2015/01/img_9156.jpgBo Luc Lac O’Connor pasture fed English breed beef, strip loin wok tossed with black pepper, garlic, oyster sauce and sesame ($38.00). Although this seemed like a simple dish, it was made very well that it impressed me a lot. What didn’t impress me was the price tag attached.2015/01/img_9158.jpgCa Ri Chay tofu, eggplant and cherry tomato vegetarian yellow curry ($29.50). Vegetarian curry was definitely not my choice but I fell in love with the amount of depth this sauce had. It definitely made me think about the type of curry I would like to develop when I get through my New Year’s resolutions.2015/01/img_9162.jpgCa Kho New Zealand King Salmon fillet in a caramel, chilli and black pepper sauce with Chinese broccoli and sesame crackers ($39.00). Fish isn’t usually my first pick either but Mumsy loves fish and chose this dish. I really liked it. The sticky sweet caramel soy sauce always goes perfectly with salmon.2015/01/img_9160.jpgChuoi Chien Banana fritters crumbed in coconut and white rice with palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce and vanilla bean ice cream ($16.00). My sister was the only one who wanted a dessert but she let me have a spoonful. The addition of the coconut with the banana makes me think of a cross between a deep-fried ice cream and a banana split.2015/01/img_9165.jpgWe sat at the spacious big table in the centre of the dining area while the other neighbouring booths looked a little snug and the place can get quite noisy. We had to ask for new bowls when we sat down as two of them were dirty; the staff were friendly throughout the night and were attentive with things like water and taking away plates etc.2015/01/img_9147.jpgThe bill came to around $180ish (after Entertainment book discount) between 5 diners, 3 of which just had a large lunch at Quay. Not the cheapest Asian meal but if you ignore the price tag and order the right dishes, you’ll have a wonderful night. There is a snug fitting bar at the back which would be nice to hang out at while waiting for a table.

Venue: Red Lantern on Crown

Address60 Riley St Darlinghurst, NSW

Phone: 02 9698 4355

Entertainment book: Yes! It is in the Sydney one.

Red Lantern on Riley on Urbanspoon

Saigon gone wrong

After an exciting game of Roller Derby, my friends and I were on the hunt for dinner and I suggested to go to the Pearce shops with just minutes down the road and multiple places to choose from. When we arrived, Rama’s and Ethiopian Down Under were so busy and they were fully booked inside and out, so we decided to go to the quiet Saigon Restaurant in the corner (maybe that should have been our first hint). 

When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted with decor that hadn’t changed since the 80s, plastic bowls and plates and vinyl tablecloths. We had either found one of those places where the more dingy it looked, the better the food, or a restaurant that has food to match their decor.

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Goi Cuonrice paper fresh rolls (2 rolls for $5.80). The rice paper rolls didn’t look too bad but when I took a bite it was the driest thing ever. It was truly terrible and lacked all the exciting fresh herbs that the Vietnamese use in their cooking.

Mi Don Rau Cai crispy egg noodles with mixed vegetables ($12.50). This wasn’t too bad, a very basic vegetable stir fry on top of some fried noodles.

Heo Ram Gungcaramelised pork with ginger and special sauce ($12.50). I didn’t really taste much ginger but it had a nice salty sauce, perfect for accompanying with rice.

Bo Rau Rambeef stir fried in Vietnamese mint, peanut ($12.50). The most authentic dish because it had the Vietnamese mint but the beef wasn’t really all that tender.

I don’t think the food on the menu really represented authentic Vietnamese but rather a skewed version of Westernised Chinese food. Albeit the dishes were very cheap, it was really mediocre food and not really Vietnamese. If you like cheap stir fried “Asian” dishes then this is the place for you, but if you want Vietnamese food I would suggest going somewhere else.

Venue: Saigon Restaurant

Address: 3 Hodgson Crescent, Hodgson Crescent, Pearce, ACT 2607

Phone(02) 6286 1235