New Year’s Eve 2009. I don’t remember much of the day (drinks later that night didn’t help) but I do remember it being stinking hot. And yet, I still thought that having a hot, bowl of bun bo hue was a good idea.
As you may be aware, my favourite place to have this fiery Vietnamese noodle soup is Dong Ba in Footscray, followed a close second by Nam Giao, Springvale. Apparently, though, legions of Vietnamese people swear by the bun bo hue dished out by Song Huong, a modest yet bustling bun bo hue specialist in St Albans. Because I was meeting Adam at his place prior to heading over to Aaron’s for his NYE gathering, we decided that a late lunch at Song Huong would be super.
We both had an iced Vietnamese coffee ($3 each), the perfect way to keep our bodies buzzing for the remainder of the day and evening. This was also the first time we had ordered Vietnamese coffee at a restaurant and have it presented to us in a drip filter. I hate it when restaurants present it to us in a tall glass with shitloads of ice because I can never know whether they actually brewed the coffee from scratch or whether it was just instant coffee (and in some cases, I have suspected the latter). Here, at least I was able to be rest assured that my coffee was made fresh.
The prawn spring rolls we ordered (six pieces for $6) were, as far as I could remember, adequate. Not overly small either. The dish in the background is Adam’s salted fish and chicken fried rice (can’t remember how much it was, $9.50 I think) which I didn’t particularly like as the rice was a bit gluggy but Adam loved it.
My bun bo hue. At Song Huong, you can order according to sizes which is always a plus one in my books. I ordered a medium-sized bowl for $8 but if you were less hungry, you could opt for a small bowl ($7) or even a baby-sized one for $5. Generally speaking though, most people would go for the extra large bowl, a steal at $10.
So, how was my BBH? Well, it was good but not as good as I expected. I was dismayed at the fact that I received a measly portion of noodles and probably about three pieces of beef brisket. The broth was lovely – tangy and hot without being too overbearing, even in the heat. I did, however, feel that the dish was somewhat one-dimensional, lacking the intricacies that BBHs from Dong Ba and Nam Giao offered. I guess I’d come back here if I was in the area and felt like BBH… but only if I really could NOT sit through a 15 minutes drive for a better one in Footscray.