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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