Earlier this week, Jen asked me if I was free to catch up for lunch in Springvale on the weekend with her and Shirley. And even though Springy is a bit of a hike for me (no car, you see ), I could never turn down good company and good food. The place that Jen was keen to take us to was apparently the best place for bun bo hue and they also do a lot of great dishes too. Sounded good to us. So after my morning gym session in the city, I went straight to the station, tried not to get pissy when I heard the announcement that the train was running late, finally hopped on the train, spent the entire train ride sitting next to some old codger who stank like garlic, got off at Springy and breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got some fresh air, bumped into Shirley at the station (hey if I was going to be late, at least I wouldn’t be alone!) and arrived at Nam Giao 10 minutes later than the scheduled time of 1pm.
Jen was already there and so was Dave whom we invited at the spur of the moment because he lived only around the corner from where we were having lunch. So yep, a nice casual catch-up lunch. Anyway, I thought Nam Giao was a pretty cute place. Instead of those generic brightly-lid and sometimes garish Vietnamese restaurants you find in Footscray, Richmond and okay, the rest of Spring vale, it was like stepping into a scene from Three Seasons or The Scent of Green Papaya. Rather than white tiles and laminex tables, it was wooden tables and wooden interiors. Very nice. Plus, it was also a very sunny dining room which meant decent lighting for not-so-crap food photos, yay!
I decided to be boring and order sliced beef pho ($8) which came in a massive bowl. I thought about going for Nam Giao’s supposedly awesome bun bo hues that Jen was ordering but I happen to be one of those people who, for some reason, can’t bring myself to order a bowl to myself. More often than not, I will have a few spoonfuls of Adam’s but never the whole thing to myself. Yeah, I know. I’m weird. Anyway, my pho was great in that it was huge and I knew I wasn’t going to leave feeling hungry but I felt that the broth was a little too plain for my liking. When I added a spoonful of chilli oil, however, it instantly made my meal taste 10 billion times better and I literally lapped it all up.
Dave’s rice vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls. This was what I probably would’ve ordered had I not felt like pho that day. I didn’t manage to have a bite but Dave reckons that it tastes better than what his parents could whip up at home. I’ve never tried anything that’s come out of Dave’s kitchen but from what I’ve seen and read on his blog, I can deduce that his parents are pretty well-versed in cooking so his dish must’ve been pretty damn good. It looked pretty good too and two thumbs up for the generous amount of spring rolls too.
Jen’s bun bo hue which she offered us to taste but my pho was filling me up already so I didn’t have a chance to try. It did look good though so maybe if Adam and I actually go to Springvale for lunch one Sunday, I’ll make him order the soup while I try Dave’s dish. Heh.
Shirley’s chicken pho which looks a bit like noodles + soup + drunken chicken haha. Rather interesting way of presenting pho because I’ve only ever seen it served with shredded chicken and usually without the skin on too. Again it looked nice but poor Shirley couldn’t finish all her noodles (then again, look how massive the bowl is and look how tiny she is!).
While my pho wasn’t the best pho I’ve had in my life, I can certainly see myself visiting this place again when I’m in Springy. My family and I used to go to Thanh Dat but the last time I visited, the food wasn’t as good as I could remember so we’ve been trying other places when we’re down here. With decent-tasting food at very reasonable prices (it was just under $50 for the four of us, including drinks), I can definitely add this to my list of places to have lunch in Springvale. And although the wait staff suck at English, they are efficient and polite without being rude like those fobs who work at Chinese joints. Boh!