Dong Ba

133 Hopkins St, Footscray
Phone: 9689 0608

After weeks of living in limbo, house sitting for my sister while she was on her honeymoon, I’m finally ensconced in my new apartment in Footscray! So let the exploration of my new ‘hood begin in earnest!

The intrepid Ms D and I wandered the main drag of Hopkins St last Sunday, looking for some lunch. She was in the mood for bun bo Hue, so I suggested we try Dong Ba, because its signage mentions bun bo Hue, so it must specialise in it, right?

Dong Ba is a classic Vietnamese kitsch restaurant, with daggy furniture, colourful walls, and menus on the wall. There’s also a printed menu, with many more options, but Ms D and I went for two of their specialities. She had the bun bo Hue.

A ‘medium’, this was a hefty bowl of noodles. Filled with all the meat and offal goodness that befits a bun bo Hue, Ms D was very satisfied. She kindly let me sample some of the broth before tucking in, and I must say, it was just beautiful. Most people think bun bo Hue is a chilli beef noodle soup, which is probably due to the amount of orange chilli oil floating on the top. However, it’s actually supposed to be a lemongrass beef noodle soup , and Dong Ba’s version certainly hit the mark there. I’m definitely getting a bowl for myself next time I’m there!

This time, I opted for the bun mang vit (rice vermicelli with duck and bamboo shoot), one of my favourites from a stall near my work when I was living in Saigon.

For me, the make-or-break factor in a bun mang vit is the bamboo shoot. They should have been braised in in some sort of master stock, so they will both have a savoury taste to them, as well that their characteristic pungent bamboo shoot-iness. Dong Ba’s were pretty good, on this count. The broth, too, was clear and tasty, though there was some definite MSG action, it wasn’t heavy handed. The duck itself was a tad disappointing, being slightly overcooked and dry. But all in all, a great rendition.

Some of my friends are quite East or South-centric, and still perceive Footscray to be a hotbed of crime and not very safe. I don’t know about all of that just yet, but I do know that I’m so happy to be surrounded by quality soup noodles in my new neighbourhood!

Dong Ba on Urbanspoon

11 Replies to “Dong Ba”

  1. Hi Billy. Nice to hear of another place in Footscray. We eat at two spots quite often, but need to branch out more! And congrats on the new residence.

  2. I have no fear of Foo-ta-scray. And I've been meaning to pick your brain about bun, so next time you hit up this joint, let me know, would love to tag along!

  3. LOL this is one of my (many) locals now, Gem! There's likely to be little planning before I go again, so how about we just organise a little Footscray excursion one weekend? Might need to give me a couple of weeks to better suss out the area.

  4. YAAAAY! A fellow westie is born!! So excited to have someone else local.

    I have always been curious about Dong Ba but as I am offal-averse (yes, yes, I know – no guts, both literally and figuratively) I avoided it. Now that I know there are other things on the menu, I will try it out.

    There is a relatively new, straight-up Vietnamese soup place in the market that I would love to try out with you. They do bun mang vit as well as a few other very authentic-seeming soups and congees.

    We can talk more at the party, but welcome to the neighbourhood!

    P.S. The cannoli is UNREAL (I am assuming from Cavallaro's). Avoid the coffee though – bleccch.

    P.P.S. "Hotbed of crime", what a joke. Compared to Chicago and many other places around the world, even the "worst" Melbourne suburb is nothing. I have been asked for money in Richmond tenfold more than in Footscray. I walk to and from, in and around the Footscray CBD day and night and have never had an issue.

    I would prefer less syringes on the ground but that's a public health issue, not a crime one.

  5. Congrats again on your new place! One of the best bits about moving into a new place is exploring the area and building up a list of local eats! Looks like you'll have a long list in Footscray (or Footscary if you spell it wrong like I did the first time!!).

    I've never had or seen bun bo hue before, I'll have to try it next time.

  6. Lauren, looking forward to chatting at the party, as well as checking out the soup place. Canh chua? Please say they have canh chua!!

    April, get ready for joy. 😉 Co Do in Victoria St also does a good one, if you're out that way.

  7. Market Soup stall!!??? My mum and dad goes to one of those. They also told your Mum and dad about it.

    I went to Dong Ba today with my parents and yours today- my dad thought the Bun Bo Hue was "ok" not great. I liked it. better than the one I had in Springvale

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