Ok ... first time in ages we have tried somewhere new/old on a CBA Friday night. For the past few months in a pique of introvention, we have clung onto the comfort that familiarity brings. But now as the afternoons turn balmy/cold/balmy/freezing again, its time to blow out the old cobwebs and seek out pastures anew!!
Well in this case, an old hat with new trim ... Phu Vinh on good old Hopkins Street.
Everytime we try something new on Footscray's own L'Avenue des Champs Elysées (ok perhaps only in my head) we feel a sense of guilt at not having taken our business to Lucky Star. But man cannot live *insert stale platitude here* and custom should not indeed stale her infinite variety (ok I've twisted this saying round rather unsuccessfully ... but you get the drift).
So we decided after much furtive glancing to walk into Phu Vinh and sample its delights.
In the same way we have our test dishes every time we try out a new Malaysian (i.e. rendang, sambal kangkong and Hainanese Chicken), a new Vietnamese must traverse the following benchmarks:
Crispy Fried Flounder
Its quite rare to find Fried Flounder sold at market prices ... Its not like they fish it out of a tank!! But you can always ask for a rough quote and at Phu Vinh, the fish is round about the $20 mark. It was, simply put, delicious. This has to be one of the Top 10 seafood dishes ever! And Phu Vinh's version is worth coming back for. And I liked the fact that there was no final sprinkle of msg.
Fried Rice with Salted Fish
A slightly plainer version that I have had at other establishments, but not in any ways less scrumptious as a result. In fact, I prefer not to have shards of slimy iceberg lettuce wilting in the heat, or an overload of grey bits of chicken. Apart from the salt content, Phu Vinh's fried rice is clean and fresh on the palate and feels rather healthy!!
Kai Lan with Garlic Sauce
Again, a much fresher version without too much salt and with the requisite crunch and colour. My only complaint - too many stems not enough leaves.
Our meal started with a plate of Goi Con and here at Phu's, you each get your own bowl of sauce. Big Tick. They have one of the better sauces round the traps in my opinion. Just the perfect balance of sweet and salty. But of course this is a matter of taste.
In summary, I would recommend Phu Vihn and certainly look forward to a return visit.
Don't forget to check out the crazy wall print ... non-descript vaguely botanical swirls with a subtle leitmotif of clapsed hands dotted with a leaping man in a suit and hat carrying a briefcase ... answers on a postcard peops!!
PS - don't forget to ask for the kick ass chilli oil!!! And careful ... its smoking!!