A good mate of mine, Rich, said he works opposite a great pho place and said a few of us should go for dinner one day. Unbeknownst to me, he meant one I’d been to before. Pho Chu The Bo Ga is always packed. If you want to eat there, then this is something you will need to bear in mind when you arrive. The stream of diners coming and going is pretty constant so don’t be put off if you need to wait.
Because I didn’t dip my tripe in hoisin as recommended by Vietnamese cuisine aficionado Billy on my previous pho outing, I went the special beef pho. It has tripe, sliced beef and beef balls. Normally beef or fish balls taste a bit…dodgy, but the ones in this were freaking delicious.
Tris went the sliced beef and beef brisket. Sorry about the blurry photo. The beef is always thinly sliced and tender.
Everyone who went to the inaugural phoTUB was here, plus Rich. Most of them went for plain beef pho. The service here is great – fast, always super-friendly and efficient. Rich actually told us that he calls them up to order and they bring him his pho across the road. When he finishes, he takes the bowls back and pays. How is that for takeaway?
The trendier third of Eat, Drink, Stagger was having a bit of a rough time a while back. Sadly, Ryan lives quite far from me so I only really get to catch up with him in the city and its environs. However, Ryan had suggested that myself and Tris head out his way for a film at the sumptuous Sun Theatre in Yarraville, and naturally this meant dinner beforehand. His excellent recommendation on the night was Yim Yam, a Thai/Laotian restaurant. It’s the sort of place you’d never really find out about if it weren’t for a local telling you about it.
It was a public holiday, and the small but cute, kitsch eatery was packed to the rafters. A good sign. The service was always polite, but a little erratic due to the volume of business from diners and takeaway-getters alike.
The three of us were seated at a communal bench so things get very cosy! For entrée, I suggested we get two servings of the Thai pancakes. You can see what they look like all wrapped up here, but I want to show what’s inside. See the soft, fibrous brown stuff? That’s palm sugar! What wondrous stuff. It feels a little like candy/fairy floss, but denser though it melts on your tongue as soon as you eat it.
After some whining from Tris that I’d chosen the dish he wanted, I selected another. Both of us got two ‘salads’ respectively, the papaya and crab, and the toasted rice and coconut ones. The papaya one was extremely fresh, chilli-laden and addictive. Mine was milder and very crunchy. Tris’ one was unbelievable – it really did taste like they’d just dashed off to get the ingredients to make it just for you. A small note of contention however: rather than ‘crab’, it was meatless crab claws. Again, ridiculously fresh but the crab itself was too small to have any meat. In any case, it imbued the salad with a seawater note – it sounds odd, but it was wonderful.
Ryan ordered the tamarind chicken and a serve of rice. There was more than plenty of the chicken and we all got to taste – next time I go there, I’m getting this dish! Just the perfect amount of flavour, dryness and tenderness. I sadly did not take a good enough photo of this dish for it to appear here. We had some leftovers of all dishes and they were just amazing the day after – still hot, crunchy and flavoursome.
Not getting a good photo of Ryan’s selection is the perfect reason to go back as I’m so ordering that dish next time (yeah, sure Gem, it’s all about the photos…*rolls eyes at self*). So Ryan…when are we going next? There is another one in Moonee Ponds which is a little easier to get to for me, but I rather like the Yarraville one as an excuse to head out Ryan’s way.
I’m a little on the Dickensian side of things, so I’ll be going back on previous eats of a less glamorous nature and reviewing them. I even hope to pull out some old cookbooks and review them like I would books (which is what I do on my personal blog). This could be great fun if I manage to find some of my mother’s old cookbooks!
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Crust Pizza. When I first heard about them, I didn’t think they’d be that good, truly. I was sorely mistaken. I’ve reviewed one other before on this blog to attest to my enjoyment of them. I’m expecting any minute now for the gourmet pizza bar to be the subject matter of a blog post on Things Bogans Like and for a lecture on how the bogan cannot appreciate true haute cuisine and thus finds the non-threatening gourmet pizza its closest match. I don’t consider myself particularly bogan (though perhaps my closest friends might contest this), but I’m a little hooked on Crust’s pizzas. Great, now you all know I’m a bogan. Just give me some warning before you come round to mine so I can hide the slab of VB and Carlton Cold. Hey, I might even get the goon out – just for you.
A few weeks ago on a whim, I decided to call up my mate Colin and ask him if he fancied a few slices of Crust. Tris came along and we three shared two pizzas – the garlic prawn one, and one of the newer upper crust ones, the Peking duck. I’m a bit put out by the Peking duck because it replaced my beloved Fromage (see above). I really should know by now – I always think “nah, this flavour can’t possibly work, they’ll stuff up” but they never do. The Peking duck pizza was the perfect balance of duck meat, hoisin and bok choy – so not traditional per se, but a great translation to pizza.
The garlic prawn pizza is less confronting. The prawns are so damn juicy. I nearly forgot to squeeze the lemon wedge on them, oops!
By the end of the evening, Colin was a convert.
On a more recent occasion, I tried my gourmet pizza conversion skills on Mum. Dad had been away for a few weeks and Mum had been subject to my cooking for a few days in a row (that which I would wish upon no one. Well, maybe not till I get a bit better…). I suggested one evening we share two pizzas and I promised I would pick ones that weren’t too…quirky. I figured it’d be safe to go with one seafood and one meat. I went with the smoked salmon one, and the prosciutto one.
I think you are probably all aware of my prosciutto adoration, but even this looked pretty plain. Can you even see the prosciutto? I can’t! However, I wasn’t let down – the meat, cheese and dough base ratios were just right. If I couldn’t decide what to get, this would most likely be my default pizza.
Mum really loves her seafood, and on Fridays, doesn’t eat meat as is the practice among old-school Catholics. She said she’d prefer to order the smoked salmon pizza instead of Friday fish and chips. If you look carefully, there is a liberal amount of Spanish (red) onion, and capers! Mmm. None of us felt we needed to use the condiments supplied.
The nearest locations to where I live are on Smith Street in Fitzroy, and in Doncaster. I’ve heard that one will be opening soon a little nearer in Ivanhoe (20 minutes’ drive from me, as opposed to 30 like Fitzroy and Doncaster) – I sure hope so as it’s a bit of a shame to drive home and have lukewarm pizza, sob.
I told you I would go through their entire menu. Am getting there…