Rickshaw Run, Feasting In Footscray/Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Footscray Central
Sen, 74-76 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 4450
Another day, another volunteer stint on the Rickshaw Run – is it really worth another story?
Well, yes, actually – as this proves to be quite a different experience, and in many ways a more enjoyable one.
I have Bennie with me for starters.
I’ve already warned him that he’s not big enough – yet – to manhandle a rickshaw with two adults aboard. But I figure he’ll be useful anyway.
He’s quickly dragooned into oyster duty by Jessica and Aleshya, with whom he spends the rest of the night goofing off.
I figure his internal logic goes something like this: “Hmmm – hard choice. Follow my sweaty old man around or hang out with these two cool pop culture mavens?”
If he new what “maven” actually meant, of course …
Oh well – off I go, helping my fellow volunteers haul two groups of 10 guests around all the usual spots.
There seems to be more time this outing to get to know my colleagues.
Among them is Eve, who regularly posts on westie food haunts at Conversation with Jenny and with whom I swap notes for the rest of the evening.
And steering the rickshaws is notably easier as, early on a Sunday evening, the footpaths are much less crowded.
The previous week, there had been only three of us sharing our complementary volunteer meal at Sen.
Tonight, there’s a whole table of us – including deputy mayor Grant Miles – and a jolly time is had by all.
When we first moved to the west, this place was called Ha Long and it was our habitual Vietnamese stop in Footscray, so it’s rather nice to be back in such familiar – if spruced up – surrounds.
Sitting next to me is Leo (short for Leonor), who is Filipino. So, of course, we discuss Filipino food and this blog’s ups and downs with it, before moving on to Korea and beyond.
Several of those around me order diced beef with tomato rice.
It looks sensational, with oodles of fluffy red rice liberally flecked with egg, heaps of rough-cut pickles including cabbage and gorgeous, glistening beef that elicits many “oohs” and “aahs”.
Bennie orders a really ballsy duck and vermicelli dish.
The soup that accompanies is REALLY unlike anything I have ever seen or tasted in a Vietnamese restaurant.
It’s dark, mysterious and – for me – cloyingly rich. Bennie ignores the mushrooms and slurps it up anyway.
And he raves about the rest of it all the way back to the car.
I order banh mi bo kho (beef stew) with bread roll, but end up making do with the noodle version.
It’s good, but I suspect this is a rather new batch of stew in which the flavours and ingredients haven’t fully merged.
The no-bone, no-fat meat is wondrously tender, though, and I enjoy my bowl of goodies very much.
Will we be putting our hands up for Rickshaw Run duties next year?