5 Northumberland Rd, Sunshine. Phone: 9352 8711
The not unpleasant demands of routine mean that in recent years the neighbourhood on the other side of Ballarat Rd in Sunshine has become profoundly familiar to us.
This familiarity has enriched us with one of our favourites – La Morenita, the expanded eat-in menu of which is to be the subject of a forthcoming Consider The Sauce review.
But sadly, the neighbourhood has delivered very little by way of eating thrills, despite it being well endowed with the sort of the small local shopping strips we routinely treat as rich seams for food mining.
Which means we are thrilled to welcome Minh Hy.
And all kudos to Bennie Weir, and his blooming foodie sophistication and enjoyment, for proudly leading his father right to this fine little joint for a Sunday lunch.
It’s a small place, with only three in-house tables, one of them a two-seat affair, although there are several tables outside for your alfresco alternative.
The inside seating is all taken when we arrive, but thankfully after only a short wait we have a table to call our own.
There’s no menu, but the walls are festooned with the familiar hand-written signs in Vietnamese, the understanding of which we are very much still in prep stage.
Kudos then, too, to the ultra-friendly staff who are happy to take the time to talk us through many of the varied options.
Minh Hy has a buffet-type operation similar to that of Dinh Son Quan at Saigon Market in Footscray.
It is from here that Bennie chooses three serves with rice for $9, with a tasty chicken wing thrown in for good measure.
The lad fancies himself as a fan of all things squid and octopus, but in this case finds the squid involved in a stir fry with vegetables a little too chewy and rubbery for his liking.
The agreeably greasy serve of small-diced pork works fine for him, but the hit is the thin omelette with bitter melon.
His dad orders the seafood soup noodles (mi do bien), also at a cost of $9.
In truth, the lump of thin egg noodles in this is a tad uninspiring, but the three plump prawns are good mixed in with a handful of calamari pieces.
But the star is the broth, which smells and tastes like it’s based on a stock made with prawn heads and the like. Its bisque-like colouring backs up this theory.
We’re having so much fun that we indulge in a serve of one of the two rich-looking deserts on display in bowls.
Che ba ba – $3 for a bowl – has sweet potato, cassava, tapioca and more swimming in coconut cream.
After it’s heated up for us, Bennie loves its all-round squishiness; his dad is not so enamoured.
But the boy is not done yet. Despite just having slurped up desert, he also tucks into a steamed roast pork bun ($2.20) with relish.
All up, our meal – including two cans of soft drink – costs us a supremely cheap $26.
If our meals were of the journeyman variety rather than truly noteworthy, we reckon return visits – and a greater familiarity with the place – will assuredly provide more sublime highs in an establishment that packs in a surprising amount of variety into a very small space.
As we depart, Bennie opines that he fancies the spicy beef noodle soup. His father really desires a big serve of the lusciuous-looking chicken curry with a crusty bread roll on the side.
We are assured that Minh Hy is open from 7.30pm, which opens up all sorts of interesting brekky possibilities.
In the meantime, it’s been a pleasure to chow down at a friendly neighbourhood Viet joint that stands alone and far from the bustling strips of Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans.