Melbourne Restaurant Reviews: The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Indochine

51 Carrington Rd
Box Hill VIC 3128
+61 3 9890 2966
http://www.indochinerestaurant.com.au/

Adam and I felt like Vietnamese for lunch after church on Sunday so we rocked up at Indochine, Box Hill. Dave’s recommendation of their bun bo thit nuong (vermicelli noodle salad with pork) was what sparked our decision to go there rather than our usual Vietnamese-At-Box-Hill joint, Tien Dat. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Indochine but I remembered it being pretty impressive, both in terms of food and of décor which is a bit like Nam Giao’s but more spacious, more charming and more French.

We arrived at 11:45am to a room almost filled to capacity. For some reason, it was also very dim which made photo-taking a bit dificult.  After choosing a comfy booth by the kitchen, we were promptly given menus but no tea (50 cents per head if you wanted tea). A quick glance at the very extensive menu showed that there would be something for everyone – they had about 10 varieties of vermicelli noodle salad (bun), including the beef and spring roll combination which I could never find in Vietnamese places (most places usually only offer pork with spring rolls and when I ask if I could have beef instead of pork, I would usually get a ‘wha? Me no understand’ look). I thought about getting my usual boring pho but in the end, the bun bo xao (char-grilled lemon grass beef) prevailed. All our dishes came out at the same time, something which irks me a little as I like my dishes to come out one after the other but whatevs…

We shared a serving of Hanoi spring rolls (4 for $8.90). Tien Dat is the only other place that serves this (as far as I know) and they make pretty good ones so I was keen to see what Indochine’s ones were like. For those of you who aren’t sure, Hanoi spring rolls are like “normal” Vietnamese spring rolls but bigger and wrapped in (fried) rice paper as opposed to the standard wonton wrap that Chinese people use. Apparently they’re fairly common in Vietnam but only a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in Melbourne serve Hanoi spring rolls. Anyway, four crispy logs were served with a small bed of noodles (too small, I reckon) and the obligatory lettuce leaves, Vietnamese mint and basil. I felt that there was too much pork in the filling and not enough prawn, which made the spring rolls not as nice as Tien Dat (sorry, my bias towards pork shines through).

Adam’s “special” broken rice ($10.50). What made it “special” was the extra egg pate in addition to  the fried egg and pork chop. Not being a fan of broken rice myself, I didn’t really try Adam’s dish except for a nibbling of egg but it was obvious that Adam didn’t think it was all that fantastic. In fact, he complained that his rice was too soft and its consistency somewhat similar to that of a bowl of congee.


My bun bo xao ($8.50). I was planning on getting one with spring rolls (an extra $1) but because we were already having spring rolls, I just went for a simple bun bo xao. I think my dish was a lot better than Adam’s though I was disappointed that that my so-called “grilled” beef slices were pre-cooked and heated up just before it was given to me. While the rice-vegetable ratio and the accompanying nuoc nam tasted a little bit better than Nam Giao’s version, the beef let me down. When it comes to making the best vermicelli noodle salad, I’d say Tien Dat for the win. For now anyway.

Dave’s recommendation plus awesome memories of years gone by created high (but reachable) expectations so I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed as I walked out of Indochine. The prices were very reasonable (just over $30, including drinks), the décor fantastic and the service better than what you get at other Vietnamese restaurants. Clearly the problem lay with the food and Indochine’s, in my humble opinon, way too ambitious and too long a menu. To use cricketing analogy (forgive me if you’re not a cricket fan), if Indochine was good at everything like Flintoff or Kallis, all would be okay. Unfortunately, they are not. Indochine is more like Andrew Symonds – while not as polished as Flintoff or Kallis, Symonds used to be respectable. But now, he’s gone off the radar by trying to be too many things at once instead of focusing on one thing. And that’s where Indochine gets it all wrong.

In short, Indochine completely misses the wicket by a whisker … but I will not rule out a comeback if there are MAJOR changes to their menu and overall food quality.

9 Comments on Indochine

  1. peach_water
    February 10, 2009 at 03:56 (6 years ago)

    The springrolls look very crispy!
    I actually prefer rice over vermicelli because I dunno, I don’t particularly like vermecelli at restaurants as they are always too soggy!

    I haven’t been to indochine for ages too! too long to remember what it’s like :(

    Reply
  2. icesabre
    February 10, 2009 at 03:57 (6 years ago)

    Indochine tomorrow for lunch! Yay and nay! It’s the fourth time in as many weeks. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Another workfriend’s B’day lunch.

    Reply
  3. funky_ass
    February 10, 2009 at 05:48 (6 years ago)

    my bf still swears by indochine..

    just a note… tien dat and indochine are family… :D

    Reply
  4. vamp168
    February 10, 2009 at 09:07 (6 years ago)

    Do any of these venues serve the ” The 7 delights of beef ” ?
    That’s a winner if you love beef …

    Reply
  5. Me_itchy_Bum
    February 10, 2009 at 21:28 (6 years ago)

    I don’t like reading your blog during lunch time at work…… it makes me SOOOO hungry!!!!

    You should start doing restaurant reviews and get paid for it!

    Reply
  6. SNSAZN
    February 13, 2009 at 03:48 (6 years ago)

    @funky_ass - 

    Oooh that explains why there are two restaurants on Carrington that look pretty much the same…

    @vamp168 - 

    I don’t think I’ve seen it in any Melbourne restaurants… I don’t think I love beef THAT much to be able to order it but we shall see. Heh.

    Reply
  7. icesabre
    February 15, 2009 at 00:28 (6 years ago)

    Just went to Indochine for the upteenth time this week – 3 times, which totals up to 6 times in the last four weeks. It’s been a pretty Vietnamesey month for me! Nam Giao with yourself, Jen and Shirley, Tien Dat 6 times because of colleague birthdays and friends celebrating the end of the Graduate Program, Thanh Dat or something like that on Windsor/Buckingham avenues in Springvalue.

    Hrmmm… a bit of England in Springvale I just realised after typing Windsor and Buckingham, after spending nearly 80% of my life in Springvalue!

    Reply
  8. SNSAZN
    February 15, 2009 at 03:52 (6 years ago)

    @icesabre - 

    Haha Springvalue? Was that an honest typo or deliberate?

    Reply
  9. icesabre
    February 15, 2009 at 04:07 (6 years ago)

    @SNSAZN - 

    Typo dude, typo. Obviously you know who I work for and the word value I use alot lately in writing reports =(

    Reply

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