First Taste Box Hill

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First Taste is one of my favourite restaurants in Springvale. I love the claypot rice, absolutely adore it. Being able to scrape the rice from the sides is just a treat. I never knew there was a First Taste in Box Hill, and now it’s even more convenient to dine and order my favourite Black Pepper Beef Claypot Rice.

What is noticed is slightly different from the Springvale eatery is that they use less or sometimes none at all of coriander and they don’t leave the claypot bowls to cook as long. What you have is less crispy rice but still ridiculously hot, and the lacking flavour from the coriander. However everything else is basically the same, the beef is nice and tender with a pleasant fragrance and taste of pepper on the tongue. First Taste also provides a generous serving of sauce on top.

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I’m not a big fan of First Taste’s other claypot dishes though. The chicken, Chinese sausage and mushroom with soy sauce isn’t too my liking. It’s one of those slightly herbal tinged dishes, and I’m not fond of Chinese sausage with soy and of course the big mushrooms. That’s not to say it’s not cooked well, I definitely say for those that like these kind of dishes would find this perfectly satisfying. Again, they don’t leave the claypots to cook long enough so the sides and bottom of the claypot bowl aren’t as crispy.

Impressions

First Taste Box Hill is much like it’s brother (or sister) in Springvale. Slightly varied but familiarity is key here and you can’t find better Claypot rice anywhere else. Yes even Claypot King.

First Taste on Urbanspoon

First Taste
604 Station Street
Box Hill VIC 03128

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam

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Mekong is a Vietnamese restaurant located on Swanston Street, Melbourne and I’ve walked by it countless of times but never really have the urge to venture in. For one, the place looks like it hasn’t been renovated or cleaned in at least 10 years and many years back they voluntarily closed for pest control. My relatives came down for a visit and they like this kind of food so we thought there shouldn’t be any harm in dining there and it seems quite popular so it must be good?

My impressions of the place were already at an all time low, and getting seated you can see that cleanliness is not their priority. Tables and floors all have food scraps around. The supposedly clean tea cups still have food remnants on them. I don’t think I’m an utter clean freak or anything, but I do like to dine at places that at least feel clean.

Well I guess people come here for food so let’s talk about that. To go to a restaurant with the word Pho in it and not try their Pho seems blasphemous. So I opted for the Small Pho with Chicken, and I think it was reasonable. The soup wasn’t fantastic by any means, that feat goes to I Love Pho on Victoria St, Richmond and Pho Hung Vuong, Springvale but respectable. It lacks that same punch you get from the others, probably MSG but flavour is lacking.

Everything else is pretty much standard, it’s a nice cheapish meal but my OCD with cleanliness probably got in the way with actually enjoying the meal.

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam on Urbanspoon

Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam
241 Swanston St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Loi Loi (Take-away)

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Loi Loi has become one of my favourite Chinese-Vietnamese eateries on Victoria Street. They serve a wide variety of rice, fried noodle, noodle soup dishes and main meals for dinner even with a mix of Asian inspired dishes that probably isn’t authentic but still offerings something different.

During lunch time, if you eat in or take away as I did this time, they provide complementary sweet corn soup which is a nice starter or finisher to your meal. Service tends to be pretty snappy too even during peak time, but of course, if the food isn’t good why bother? Luckily, the food in general does make you want to go back again.

I ordered the Thai Fried Noodles, and it uses the bee hoon noodles stir fried in a sweet, spicy and salty flavour, coating the noodles just gently. The flavour is a departure to what I usually eat, but nonetheless it is a satisfying dish. With the fish balls, prawns as your main protein, it complements the noodles well. The fried dried onions as a garnish definitely add both texture and a toasty flavour to the dish. You also get the pleasant surprise of chopped peanuts which again just come together so beautifully. I really can’t fault the dish, Loi Loi’s dishes are generous in size, but maybe just one criticism is that its a bit oily. If it tasted this good as a take-away dish, I can’t imagine how much better it would have been fresh from the wok.

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As you would, when you go to a Vietnamese restaurant is to order their Crispy Chicken on Rice. As this was a take-away dish, the chicken wasn’t as crispy, sadly. The chicken was also a tad dry,  but with the sweet chilli sauce, it makes a perfect combination. I usually prefer the Crispy Chicken and Tomato Rice but I don’t think Loi Loi has that as an option. This dish doesn’t meet the high standards of some of the Springvale restaurants but I think it’s a decent offering. Probably much better if it was served hot and crispy.

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As mentioned before, you get a nice Sweet Corn Soup with your meal if you order for lunch. It doesn’t look as appealing here, but it’s tasty and lives up to its name. You probably can find this in many Chinese Food Court eateries, and it’s pretty much the same everywhere. I don’t think you can make a bad Sweet Corn Soup. All in all, nothing too flashy but it’s lovely of Loi Loi to serve this to customers free of charge.

Impressions

Loi Loi doesn’t stray too far away from its Chinese-Vietnamese roots, but still has a few other South-East Asian dishes for added variety. Food is generally above average, and depending on the dish, can be fantastic. Really, if you’re in Richmond, wanting a good meal, Loi Loi is the place to go.

Loi Loi on Urbanspoon

Loi Loi

364 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

Pho Hung Vuong

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Pho Hung Vuong has been around ever since I can remember.  Located in Springvale, the South East’s bustling Vietnamese community, has one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in Victoria. Not only is it always packed full of people, but is well known for its delicious and authentic Pho. It used to have a few other restaurants, one on Victoria Street, Richmond, I think it’s called Pho Hung Vuong 2 (Original!) but I’m not too sure if there are owned by the same people.

Pho Hung Vuong doesn’t go out of its way to impress you, the place looks like it hasn’t been maintained since the shopping centre opened way back when. Although it’s not the most pleasant experience, the food does more than make up for it.

Everybody that visits Pho Hung Vuong comes for their famous Pho. In three different sizes, like most Pho eateries, small, medium and large, with your choice of chicken, beef, mixed or even with added sausage. There are quite a few other ingredients you can add to your order but the above mentioned ones are the most popular.

What makes their Pho so good is the soup. It is packed full of flavour, I don’t know if it’s also packed full of MSG (Probably) but it is one of the best tasting soups around so it’s hard to make a fuss about it. The chicken/beef are perfectly cooked, with the beef gently cooking in the hot soup while you eat. It’s tender and delicious, what more could you ask for.

Of course they just don’t serve Pho, as it is a Vietnamese restaurant you can get the Fried Pork/Chicken dishes with Vietnamese salad/vegetables and rice, and all the other standards you would normally find in a Vietnamese eatery. My lack of discussion over their other food isn’t meant to be an indication of the quality of their other dishes. It’s by all means quite good. It’s just when you come to Pho Hung Vuong, you definitely come for the Pho.

You really would be hard pressed to find a better Pho restaurant in Victoria.

Pho Hung Vuong on Urbanspoon

Pho Hung Vuong 

Shop 2 / 15 Balmoral Avenue
Springvale VIC 3171

03 9558 5147

Van Mai

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Van Mai is another popular Vietnamese eatery along the bustling Victoria Street, Richmond. In my attempt to seek out and try many of the Vietnamese Restaurants in Richmond, Van Mai on Urbanspoon seemed like a very popular place to try. They have a wide selection of dishes to choose from but of course, I had to choose my favourite Vietnamese dish  (or as close to).

I love Crispy Chicken with Tomato Rice at Walrus (Springvale) and so my adventure to try out a dish that matches or even possibly tops that dish begins. Van Mai doesn’t have Crispy Chicken withTomato Rice but they do have Diced Pepper Beef with Tomato Rice dish.

I absolutely loved the flavour of this dish. The beef was packed full of flavour, it was slightly sweet, nicely marinated and had a pleasant pepper taste that didn’t overwhelm the natural beef flavour.  One little con was that it was a tad too salty but eaten with the fresh lettuce, tomato and cucumber it balanced things out.

I pretty much only order Crispy Chicken with Tomato Rice because of the Tomato Rice. At Walrus it’s a vibrant red colour with stir fried with egg, at Van Mai it’s slightly darker and oilier.  However, the taste is almost identical. Again, my only complaint is that it’s a tad too oily and I was wiping my mouth with a napkin constantly.

Other than the oiliness, the food they serve is delicious. Would definitely come back to try their other dishes.

Van Mai on Urbanspoon

Van Mai

372 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

Vinh Vinh

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Vinh Vinh is located on the bustling Victoria Street serving, of course, Vietnamese food. Their lunch menu has a good selection of dishes for a decent price. It doesn’t appear to be a very popular restaurant, but it does have a spacious dining area.

The people are mostly friendly, and service is quite good. I was actually surprised at how fast my order came since I just checked my phone for a few minutes and there it was!

I believe their lunch menu is around $8, but don’t take my word for it, and it comes with complementary soup to boot.

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I ordered the Crispy Chicken with Rice dish, usually when I go to Walrus in Springvale or really many other Vietnamese restaurants, they offer Tomato Rice with their Crispy Chicken. I don’t believe they do offer a Tomato Rice version, but they should.

I found their chicken to be overly dry, but crispy so I guess that’s a plus. So it definitely needed the sweet chilli sauce or to eat the chicken and rice with the soup to keep everything slightly moist.

The chicken had nice flavour but since it was overcooked, any positives were offset by the centrepiece of the dish.

The vegetables were more than acceptable, and added the fresh component to the dish which was welcoming and the complementary soup also had nice bold flavours to it. The soup with that sprinkling of spring onion, yep, that’s the good stuff.

Overall my dining experience was acceptable. I possibly could have chosen the bad dish or it was an off day, but for me, that one experience wasn’t a particular positive one. Would I go there again? Yes. Just to try their other dishes out even though this one wasn’t too good. If I was served something like this again,  there are plenty of other eateries to try instead.

Vinh Vinh on Urbanspoon

Vinh Vinh

387 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

I Love Pho 264

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I Love Pho is located in the heart of the Richmond-Vietnamese community. On Victoria St, I Love Pho is a popular destination to order some delicious Pho. It appears it only does indeed serve Pho, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

At I Love Pho, there are many different types of ingredients you can add to your Pho. I ordered the Chicken and Beef Combination, but you can order tofu and vegies, a special beef combination with extras or simply just beef or chicken. All for a considerably decent price range. You can check out the menu here

During lunch hours, the service appears average at best, though, it depends on how you look at it. You order and get served very quickly, but it’s mostly a rushed environment to get as many people in and out as they can.

Onto the Pho that I did try, the beef was quite nice and seasoned and still slightly rare which makes it all the better, as the very popular restaurant in Springvale well known for their Pho has chewy and tough beef. The chicken was also soft and moist and not dry at all so it was a pleasant surprise.

The soup is what I guess most people enjoy, and I Love Pho’s soup is very good. It has a great flavour to it, but it isn’t too strong. For some it may be slightly ‘watery’ but I enjoyed it and after finishing my Pho (almost finishing anyway), I was extremely full and satisfied.

I Love Pho knows what it does best, it hardly needs to change a thing as people arrive in droves. You can see why it is so popular on Victoria St, and a favourite of many as well.

I Love Pho 264 on Urbanspoon

I Love Pho

264 Victoria St
Richmond, VIC 3121

(03) 9427 7749

Saigon Light

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Saigon Light is a new entry to Kingsway in Glen Waverley, it has moved into ABC Cafe’s old spot. This Vietnamese restaurant is, to my memory, one of the only (or very few) Vietnamese eateries on Kingsway after An An closed down.

It serves the standard varieties of Vietnamese cuisine such as Pho and a good selection of rice and noodle dishes that you will often find in your Vietnamese food hubs.
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As mentioned in my previous post, I used to always go to Walrus for their Tomato Rice and Crispy Chicken dish. I don’t think I ever got sick of it. Since I seldom head to Springvale anymore, I had to find another place that serve great Tomato rice and chicken.

Saigon Light’s offering looks quite delectable but the flavour of their Tomato rice isn’t quite there. It’s slightly dry and a bit on the bland side. Walrus’s tomato rice was packed full of flavour since it was stir fried and was mixed with egg.

The fried chicken was decent, but I think I preferred Walrus’s version because the seasoning wasn’t as sweet, but it was crispy and cooked well.
IMG_6224Saigon Light’s Three colours  dessert was also slightly disappointing. It was quite sweet but lacked flavour. It was also kinda difficult to mix around but it was still alright. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but it was nice to try.

Saigon Light is a restaurant I was hoping would satisfy my Vietnamese food cravings. Unfortunately it lacks the flavour that makes authentic Vietnamese food so good.

Saigon Light on Urbanspoon

Saigon Light

109 Kingsway
Glen Waverley, 3150
(03) 9561 6888

 

 

 

Khe Sanh

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Khe Sanh has recently had a management change and renewed some interest into this long standing restaurant.

Originally opened in 2001, it has changed hands I believe late last year and serves a variety of Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian style food.

Khe Sanh is located in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne and with so many eateries around Springvale, it definitely is hard to compete. Although, tastes are what matters.

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I ordered the Nasi Lemak, and surprisingly it was quite nice. I recently became a Nasi Lemak fan after having it constantly when I vacationed in Malaysia. You’d think I’d get sick of it already, but interestingly enough I now keep wanting to try every restaurant’s Nasi Lemak.

This Nasi Lemak had all the ingredients, the egg, peanuts, anchovies, sambal, beef curry and coconut rice. What I was surprised by was the preserved vegetable which although I’ve been served before, I didn’t intend on eating it. This time, I gave it a try and it was actually decent but I’m not a big fan of cold vegetables so I wouldn’t be annoyed if it wasn’t on my plate.

The combination of flavours worked quite well together, and the curry whilst a tad too sweet, was flavourful and slightly spicy so it did its job.

Overall, for the price, it was actually a pleasant meal and I have nothing really bad to say about it.
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My parents ate these two wonderful looking dishes, Chicken stir-fry and the Crispy chicken (or pork, I can’t remember). Try the crispy chicken, or whatever it was called, it had a really nice taste to it.

I would definitely come back to Khe Sanh if I was wanting to eat around Springvale, but I don’t regularly eat there since Glen Waverley’s variety of restaurants satisfies me. I give it my thumbs up!

Khe Sanh Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Khe Sanh
792 – 806 Heatherton Road
Springvale South
(03) 9540 3017