Viet Kitchen, 110 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 8528 1112
Viet Kitchen is right in the very heart of Vietnamese Footscray, sharing a block of Hopkins Street with such popular places as Sapa Hills and Bun Ta.
In our search for the Good Stuff all over the west, we do sometimes overlook what is right in the midst of the inner west.
So it’s taken us a while to get around to Viet Kitchen, despite receiving a few reader recommendations in the past year or so.
We end up awfully glad we’ve made the effort as we enjoy a really excellent meal.
Though things get off to humourously shaky start when our server assumes Bennie is my grandson.
That was a common occurrence when my son was quite a lot younger and I was already old.
But now, when I’m not much older and he’s taller than me and still has plenty of growing to do?
No matter – my outrage is all of the mock variety.
Like its neighbours, Viet Kitchen makes a bit more of an effort than formica tables – it’s a sweet space.
Many of the customers seem to be regulars and we find the service and wait times to be fine.
We like your regular spring rolls as served across the west as much as anyone, but my understanding is that in terms of the wrapping/pastry used they are an adaptation devised by the Vietnamese diaspora.
So when we spy the more authentic cha gio Viet Nam, we pounce with glee.
These chopped-up six rolls ($10.80) are fine, with a stuffing of seafood, pork and mushroom.
As good as those served at Xuan Banh Cuon in Sunshine with slightly different accessories?
Maybe … a matter of individual preference, I think.
The spicy beef noodle soup is a sinus-blasting hoot.
And, yes, it IS spicy – though no more than any experienced Footscray food trawler will be able to handle.
The “beef” tag is somewhat misleading, as it refers only to the broth on which the dish is based – also in the bowl, along with brisket, are slices of pork and pork “ham” (sausage).
With the attending greenery – its variety a nice change from the standard herb/sprouts mix that comes with pho – this a straight-up, all-out winner.
Most Vietnamese restaurants in the west, it seems and based on our wide-ranging adventures, only serve their various coleslaw offerings in large, family sizes – as with the “farm chicken” ($23) version served here.
So once again we pounce when we see a smaller portion of the rare beef rendition ($10) on offer.
It’s a zingy, tangy, crunchy wonder, with the plentiful and very good marinated beef still pink.
Our only wish?
Even more peanuts to really send the textural contrasts into overdrive.
The Vietnamese pancake (with seafood, $16) is another successful order for us.
Despite the wetness of the rather bland filling (small prawns, calamari, fish, sprouts), only some of the large pancake becomes soggy – and it all gets devoured with yet another variation in the greenery/herbs department.