Vi’em Cafe

345 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Phone: 9421 5227

I recently met up at Vi’em Cafe with a couple of ex-expat friends whom I’d met in Viet Nam. I suggested the place because I’d been introduced to its existence by Joyce through her search for the best rice paper rolls in Victoria St. I’d been there once myself, and the rice paper rolls were indeed great, and the bun thit nuong was pretty good too! That, and I took the waitress’ laughter at my attempts to speak Vietnamese as a challenge to come back.

We started off with the obligatory rice paper rolls with grilled pork (I forgot to photograph them!) which were, again, wonderful. Still-warm slices of grilled, fatty pork, wrapped in fresh goodness.

For mains, we shared more grilled pork (because we obviously hadn’t had enough) and the soft-shelled crab (we went the pepper and salt option). Both dishes were tasty, if a little over-salted, and between three of us, we could barely finish them (with rice, of course).

Vi’em does remind me a lot of Sai Gon – the crazy fans on the ceiling, the water feature, the indoor/outdoor courtyard feel, the waitresses who laugh at you, the sporadic service – and while the food is good, I found it a little pricey for Vietnamese food ($15-30 for mains). You can get similar quality fare at cheaper prices along the Victoria street strip. That’s not to say Vi’em is bad value, there is just better. When I mentioned the place to my aunt (who lives in Richmond, used to own a restaurant on Victoria St, and has probably eaten at most of the restaurants) her first response was that she thought it was expensive. Expensive is relative, I guess.

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Momotaro Rahmen

392 Bridge Rd Richmond VIC 3121 – (03) 9421 1661
Open Tue-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-9:30pm

Still searching for good ramen in Melbourne. The ramen at Momotaro wasn’t bad; the noodles were pleasantly springy, and the chashu was well-flavoured, if lacking a little on the fat, but the tonkotsu soup was rather a let down. When compared to that of Ichiban Boshi (in Sydney), Momotaro’s tonkostu seemed thin, lacking the gelatinous goodness of pork bones having been boiled for hours until the cartilage had melted into the stiock, and seemed instead to have been merely a pork stock lightly thickened and coloured by adding milk. My lactose intolerance response doesn’t back me up in this theory, but nonetheless that’s what it tasted like.

The hunt continues… next up, Ramen ya.

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Pho dac biet at Little Saigon

258 Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 9428 8288

Yup, yet another pho review. The soup was very tasty, but this was more a result of too much MSG than anything else. Good noodle to meat ratio, but there was a lack of peppery beef sausage, and the greens/shoots were a little on the stingy side. Not bad, but only go there if Pho Chu The is closed or full.

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