Phi Phi Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant, 28 Alfrieda Street, St Albans. Phone: 9366 5686
We’ve been here before … 28 Alfrieda Street, that is.
First as Just Good Food, then as Phuong Thao – and there was another incarnation in there along the way as well.
Such is the ebb and flow, the come and go of our foodie precincts.
The latest establishment to grace 28 Alfrieda is Phi Phi – and based on a beaut Sunday dinner, we think that is a fine thing indeed.
There’s a new fit-out and the staff are trying really hard and with much graciousness.
Phi Phi is a Vietnamese/Chinese place with a wide-ranging menu that takes in all you’d expect – seafood-based banquets right through to the most humble noodles and rice dishes.
The big ovens are still out back, so you can count on the roast meats still being the goods.
When we visit, the place is fetchingly busy.
And we can think of no better testament to the place’s worthiness than the way complementary bowls of chicken soup are dispensed.
For two of our mains, we would have been very disappointed had we not got soup.
For another, it’s arrival was a pleasant surprise.
For the fourth, the chook soup addition was a shock and a big plus – now that’s class!
We don’t push any envelopes with what we order, but everything we have is good or much better.
Hot and sour soup ($5) is far from being the hottest or sourest I’ve enjoyed, but it IS among the very best, so chock-full of pork, baby prawns, tofu, mushrooms and other goodies is it.
Soft-shell crab rice paper rolls ($7) and …
… sashimi salmon rice paper rolls ($7) are both lovely, high-quality treats.
The crab taste, the fried-and-fishy tang of which can be off-putting to some, is nicely muted by the other protagonists.
In both cases, the rolls deliver fresh takes on the usual but nevertheless fit right in to the rice paper roll tradition.
Fried won tons ($5) are just so good!
Obviously house-made, they are grease-free and plump with nicely seasoned minced pork.
Hainanese chicken claypot ($11.50) comes with heaps of bok choy.
Its recipient is delighted to find the bottom rice has the desired, browned crunchiness!
Of course, ordering Hainanese chicken rice in a non-Malaysian eatery is always a bit of punt – but can lead to nice twists.
In this case, the Phi Phi version ($10) comes with some non-Malay greenery.
The rice is good, too.
And as with the claypot rendition, the chicken is superb – beautifully cooked and tender, despite some of the pieces being quite dense, and expertly boned with not a deadly shard of nastiness in sight.
That I really, truly appreciate.
Bennie goes for the salt and pepper pork ribs on tomato rice ($11), mainly because the lad is currently in a place where fried = good.
It’s all very nice, though I’ve had versions – be they pork, chicken, tofu, whatever – that have had more arresting zing in the seasoning department.
One of our party goes real old-school by ordering beef with black bean sauce on rice ($12).
And why not?
We’re loving our dinner so much we confidently expect this, too, to be very good.
And so it is.
Like all the aforementioned mains, this comes with a bowl of chicken soup – not a usual move for a black bean-sauced dish and worthy of a “Bravo”!
As we muse on our wonderful dinner, we count ourselves lucky that the food we like most is so affordable.
Our meal – including a can of soft drink and a durian smoothie – clocks in at a stupendously good $74 for four.
And that, in turn, has us reflecting on the fact our newly refurbished Yarraville pub has on its menu Singapore noodles priced at $26.
We’ll take Phi Phi any day.
On an earlier reconnaissance visit, yours truly also went old-school with a serve of roast duck and soya chicken on rice.
This $12 outing was also most enjoyable.
The meats were tender and expertly chopped, and the presence of not just soup but also ginger/garlic/oil mash and pickles made the dish memorable.