Ha Long Bay

82 Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 9429 3268
Open Daily 10am-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm

Ha Long Bay is one of the slew of Vietnamese restaurants along Victoria St which I don’t normally frequent. The name implies a Northern Vietnamese cuisine, which is quite evidently lacking once you peruse the menu. This is probably due to the fact that the vast majority of Vietnamese migrants who settled in Australia after the ‘American War’ were from the defeated South, so the cuisine that has developed here reflects that.

Nonetheless, Ha Long Bay is my cousin’s favourite restaurant along the strip, so I was sure it had to have something going for it. After all, she’s been to Viet Nam many times, and her mother makes possibly some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve eaten in Australia.

I ordered the bun mam (pronounced ‘buun-maam’) which is rice vermicelli with various bits of seafood (and sometimes, as in Ha Long Bay’s case, pork) and tofu in a broth flavoured redominantly with fermented, salty fish. Sadly, Ha Long Bay’s bun mam lacked the pungent saltiness which is really what you’re after when you order it.

My cousins ordered a couple of dishes to share – in the foreground is the seafood combination (I tend to shy away from things in Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants which have ‘combination’ in the title) which was woefully bland and uninspiring. The restaurant redeemed itself, however, with the salt-and-pepper calamari, which was crispy and tender, and tasty without going too overboard on the MSG. It’s a simple dish, but works so well when executed properly.

Ha Long Bay probably does warrant a return visit, but care needs to be taken when choosing from the extensive menu. There may be a few gems there, but there’s also a lot of pedestrian fare.

Ha Long Bay on Urbanspoon

3 Replies to “Ha Long Bay”

  1. I've been to both the Richmond and Footscray locations and while not "bad", there's just so much better out there.

  2. Oh, I didn't know there was Footscray branch. Figures. It does have a feel of an old stalwart who has stopped trying so hard. Although if I remember correctly, there were questions as to whether the restaurant had changed chefs in recent times – according to my aunt, it used to be much better.

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