Xuan Xinh, 52 Alfrieda St, St Albans. Phone: 9362 1544
Self-evidently, Xuan Xinh has a name.
It has street signage saying so, too.
But this has to be the most anonymous eatery on busy Alfrieda St.
Like Pho Kim Long just up the street, this is a local hangout, but one I’d guess even less likely to pull in visitors to the area looking for a good feed.
Aside from right here, you’ll not find bloggers or newspaper foodie bits extolling its virtues, nor any love – or even a mention – at Urbanspoon.
But that sort of anonymity and the steady parade of regular and hungry customers have their own appeal.
There’s banh mi makings on display, but most of the eat-in customers have their food out of bowls rather than buns.
I’d not call myself a regular here, but over the course of several visits I’ve endeavoured to discover what it is these customers are having for lunch.
But so unused are the staff to having non-Vietnamese speaking customers and so monumentally lacking is my understanding of same that such inquiries have, perhaps inevitably, ended up in all-round bewilderment.
All I know is there’s a congee on the menu, some chicken dishes, too; and next to the banh mi ingredients are a beef stew and a dish of pork ribs and hardboiled eggs.
I’m cool with it, as I suspect I’ll always order what I always order – the chicken curry.
This is a utilitarian eating space that has a comfy, lived-in feel.
I’m well used to biding my time in Indian joints by flipping with interest through copies of the various incarnations of the Indian street press.
But reading with equal interest the Filipino street press in a Vietnamese place? Definitely a first!
To go with my chook curry I can choose rice or roll.
I go the baguette route.
It’s sensationally fresh – crunchy on the outer, moist and almost doughy on the inside, perfect dipped in the curry.
My curry is perfection.
Three pieces of impeccably tender and tasty chicken, with the meat simply falling away from the bones.
One big and tender but not mushy potato.
Curry gravy that is ever so mild, with just a whisper of spice kick.
The price? $8 – and that’s perfect, too.