Full disclosure: I’ve only really started eating Vietnamese food about 6 months ago, when we moved house. I’ve always been interested in the country, and it’s culture and history, but strangely enough (strange because usually my entire life revolves around food), I’ve never really gone out of my way to eat it. I’d had the off rice paper roll before, but that was about the extent of it. Then, last September, my little sister and I (who has some awesome food adventures of her own which you can follow at myfoodphilosophy) decided to book a trip to Vietnam! We’ve both always wanted to go, and we decided it was about time to stop “wanting to go” and actually just go. So, over a glass of wine, we booked flights – we’re due to head over in 3 months! SO EXCITED!
Around the same time, husband and I also moved house, from arguably one of the most Caucasian suburbs in Melbourne’s north, to one of the most multicultural – within a 100m strip of street, you can find an Indian grocery store, an Italian deli, Lebanese bakery, Greek sweet shop, and just about everything in between!
One of our favourites, however, is an inconspicuous little Vietnamese place in Preston, near the market where we do our groceries. We go there for dinner just about every Friday night before or after we do our grocery shopping, and after trying a good few dishes, we’ve both found a favourite – the bún chả. A traditional Vietnamese dish of vermicelli noodles, usually some grated carrot and cucumber and maybe lettuce, mint and/or cilantro, crushed peanuts and some sort of meat/tofu/springroll combination. This little place is my favourite bún chả, and as such, I’ve left it till last on this review!
I’ve also been trying this deliciously simple dish at a few other places, so here are the four I’ve had in the last month, and my thoughts on them all..
1. Twee’s Hut, Melbourne
Order: Crackling roast pork bún chả (vermicelli, lettuce, beanshoot, cucumber, pickled carrot, herbs, peanuts, fried shallots and crackling roast pork).
How good was it? Amazing. Absolutely amazing. One of my favourites – the pork crackling was crunchy and the pork was tender, the mix of everything else in the bowl was fresh and delicious, and the chilli sauce was really great for me because it wasn’t super spicy (I don’t deal well with spice). No complaints, 10/10, will definitely be going to get more!
2. Lâm Lâm, Northcote
Order: Bún chả with shredded pork and spring rolls (vermicelli, lettuce, beanshoot, cucumber, carrot, herbs, peanuts, shredded pork and spring rolls).
How good was it? Not great, unfortunately… the spring rolls were fantastic, but other than that, it was a little bland, to be honest. It’s a pity, because their rice paper rolls are delicious and the place has a really great Asian street food kind of vibe, but I wouldn’t order this again.
3. Bang Bang, Northcote
Order: Bún chả with grilled chicken (vermicelli, lettuce, beanshoot, cucumber, carrot, herbs, spring onion, peanuts, grilled chicken).
How good was it? It was actually pretty nice – the chicken was beautiful and juicy and tender, and the skin was crisp and really full of flavour. Great price for such a big serving, I wouldn’t mind trying some of the other ones, like the lemongrass beef! Also, great sauce – just the right balance between sweet and spicy!
Order: Bún chả with grilled pork and spring rolls (vermicelli, lettuce, beanshoot, cucumber, carrot, mint, spring onion, peanuts, grilled pork and spring rolls).
How good was it? It’s the best. Hands down, my favourite, hence why I have this for dinner every Friday night. The spring rolls are magnificent and stay crispy, the pork is delicious, the mint makes everything taste better, and it’s just a bowl of love, in my opinion. It gets some bad reviews, and I’d tend to agree that some of the food on the menu (ie. the non-traditional Vietnamese items) aren’t super amazing, but the actual Vietnamese food is top notch. If you’re in the area, go for it – it’s cheap and delicious, open 7 days a week, you can’t go wrong!
Any other suggestions for great bún chả in Melbourne?! Always on the hunt to try something new, particularly when I’ve already titled this part 1!