Vy Vy, 318 Racecourse Rd, Flemington. Phone: 9372 1426
The exterior signage says: “Vietnamese, Chinese & Malaysian Cuisine.”
But the internal furniture and fittings give the game – if that’s what it is – away.
This is a Flemington favourite with a Chinese lineage that attempts dishes from other Asian traditions.
And mostly, we’ve found over the years, it does an excellent job – so much so that for us and many regulars, it is preferable for Malaysian food to its far more lauded neighbours around the corner in Pin Oak Crescent or just up the road, or even right next door.
Oddly, for this mid-week dinner, that proves not to be the case – what we get are good plates and bowls that are nonetheless full of food that is only loosely Malaysian as filtered through a Chinese kitchen.
But tonight we care not a whit for authenticity.
It’s cold, we’re hungry, football practice has been long of duration.
Even more auspiciously, just as we’re about to order, a supreme example of humanity enters the restaurant to hand me the $20 note I’d left dangling out of the ATM across the road.
We salute you, Sir!
Our shared lobak ($5) has none of the usual vegetable texture from the likes of carrot.
This is just about all pork of a sublimely chewy kind and, as always, we love the crunchy, crispy tofu outer.
This is a very meaty entree!
Bennie is absolutely adamant – in the face of advice based on infinite wisdom from his dad – that he wants to order the satay fried beef noodles.
Thankfully, our bubbly waitress, Tiffany, talks him out of such a course on the basis of high levels of spiciness.
Instead, he gets hokkien fried noodles ($11.50), which goes down a treat – its array protein keeps the lad happy, while the profusion of greenery mollifies his father.
He rates it a high 8.5 out of 10, but it’s very much a toned-down version of the Malaysian hokkien mee – less dark, less lusty, just less.
Much the same could be said of my beef curry with noodles ($10).
The menu describes the curry as “rendang”, and such has been the case on previous visits.
But not this time – there’s no coconut to speak of and the gravy is soup, and a pretty runny one at that.
The meat is good, but a little on the fatty/gristly side. And I wish I’d gotten hokkien noodles instead of the rather dreary egg noodles I get.
But – surprisingly – the dish as a whole kicks goals.
I love the high chilli levels and plentiful amount of bok choy.
Certainly a curry bowl in which the sum is greater than the parts.
We’ve been here too often to be even slightly deterred by an oddly “un”-Malaysian experience.
As she shows us before and after photographs of her splendid work as a make-up artist, Tiffany tells us that the family business was one of the very first Racecourse Rd eateries.
They’ve been in the current premises for more than 10 years and before that inhabited the building a couple of doors down that still houses Chop Chop and a few others.
Besides, sometimes there’s an awful lot to be said for formica, tiles, smiles and equine artwork.