Sometimes I am just glad I come back from work late. Because that’s when I step out and discover the lovely eating joints on the street I live. Remember Las Chicas? Right next to my house and what a delight. And so just the other day, when I got back from work at around 8 pm (sacrilege in the city of Melbourne, I say!) and the choice was between a quick bowl of Indo-Mie (instant noodles), or ordering pizza, I voted no for both (am quite the authoritarian in food choices at home :) ) and we stepped out on to our friendly neighbourhood Carlisle Street.
We reached Saigon Street Eats, situated on the far end of Carlisle Street. Guests are seated on a sharing basis as the place is popular and space is sparse. The menu is displayed on a blackboard, you decide what you want to eat, and place your order at the cash counter. From the counter you get a view of the open kitchen where you can see the cooks working away merrily. There are sounds of chopping, some laughter, and wonderful smells pervading all through. The menu itself is quite simple.
Main course options were:
- Rice Paper Rolls with fillings like grilled salmon, grilled beef, Vietnamese omelette, grilled chicken
- Pho (pronounced Fur, with the r silent) – medium or large bowls of Vietnamese broth with rice noodles, and bean sprouts, and you could chooses toppings like shitake mushrooms with fried tofu, chicken/prawn/beef spring rolls, poached chicken, poached fish, poached chicken with quail eggs.
- Bun (pronounced boon) – Vietnamese salad comprising of vermicelli, bean sprouts, finely grated fresh vegetables like carrots, lettuce, cucumber, and a small handful of mint leaves. The dressing was a mildly sweet and zesty lime and chilli sauce served separately. And for the toppings you could choose between fried tofu, grilled chicken, grilled beef, chicken/prawn/beef spring rolls.
- Banh Mi Rolls: Multiple filling options served in freshly baked French baguette bread rolls
We knew were going to have a bowl of Pho for sure and while I really wanted to have the mushrooms and tofu combination, the mister loves his chicken soup. So we went for a medium bowl of poached chicken pho. I ordered the prawn spring rolls bun, hoping it was more zesty than sweet. And coz I wanted to have some salad for dinner and feel good about myself (especially after the decisive no to noodles and pizza)
The service was delightfully super-prompt, and the food came in super-big-bowls. And the taste did not disappoint. The bun was extremely light and zesty, with the right amount of crunch and flavour. Fresh salad for a sticky, hot summer day. And the prawn spring rolls were so crisp. Super yummy and so flavourful. The bowl of pho however was simply awesome. It was served with a small serving of bean sprouts on the side with a wedge of lemon and chilli oil. Mix it all up together and we were in Saigonese heaven.
The tagline says food like how our mama makes it and I have to completely agree. Thank you, late work nights. And thank you Saigon street eats for introducing me to the subtle flavours of Vietnamese home food.