Bun Ta, 108 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 4130
Bun Ta is a brand spanking new Footscray joint.
Sort of … see below.
It has a dish I have never spied on a Vietnamese menu before now.
I know this because, being a fan of almost everything to do with New Orleans and South Louisiana, had I ever before come across something described as “Vietnamese gumbo rice vermicelli soup”, nothing at all could have prevented me from ordering it.
So I pounce on it at Bun Ta, despite eliciting only the most vague descriptions of the dish and its protein protagonists, and a gentle warning that it is of “strong flavour”.
As I soon discover, the “gumbo” is presumably meant to be “jumbo”, as in the fat chopstick-defying noodles.
Oh, how wonderfully Westie – stitched up by a linguistic menu glitch, and ending up with a damn fine lunch anyway!
Such menu snafus are, of course, one of the routine pleasures of eating out in the west.
They’re good fun and I mean no mean-spiritedness in pointing this one out.
But sometimes you just have to laugh and go with the flow.
As it is, I really like my bun mam kho ($10).
It comes across as a Vietnamese take on tom yum – the broth is slightly sweet, slightly sour, slightly spicy and all delicious.
It’s made, I am subsequently told, using fish sauce and lemongrass among other ingredients.
The slithery noodles are joined by pork belly, fish, squid and prawns.
But this is not a meaty affair – these ingredients have a gentleness about them that is in harmony with the whole, which includes some in-bowl greenery and much more on the side.
It’s a real nice alternative to the more familiar (in these parts) pho or hu tieu dishes.
Bun Ta is actually the much-loved stalwart Huy Huy given a new name and a swish new look.
The ownership, I’m told, is the same, and I’m guessing much else is as was.
But still, this sort of rejuvenation is good for everyone and I suspect Bun Ta will become just as revered at its earlier incarnation.
The new place has four kinds of coleslaw for $12-14 and three kinds of pancake for $13 amid many familiar dishes.
One main that catches my eye is bo ti me – rare beef with tamarind ($15). But it’s only served as a main, so will have to await another visit with a fang friend for company.
I will return soon, as well, for their “7 toppings broken rice”, which is gaining the most raves of the Bun Ta social media action I have seen.
The Bun Ta Facebook page is here.