Tuesday, December 28, 2010

viet hoa bò viên

Continuing on my recent foray into the Vietnamese pho, I visited Viet Hoa in Northbridge during a particularly ravenous state as I foolishly skipped breakfast that morning.

I was in the neighbourhood running some errands. When I finished getting the things I needed to get, my stomach was my next urgent priority. I carefully looked at a few restaurants before settling on Viet Hoa. About 7 years ago now, I went there with my parents, and we did not have a particularly good meal / experience, we never came back since. But I thought I should give it another try, seeing as 7 years is probably about enough for holding a grudge, not that I let go of my grudges very easily.

I stood at the front of the restaurant at 11.12am and almost trampled on a waitperson cleaning the glass door. She greeted me, opened the door for me and promptly seated me down and showed me the menu. I skimmed through the menu, knowing that I was not particularly adventurous that day. I was hungry, so I needed a totally cowardly safe bet, something that I knew would be good and would fill me up. So, I settled on the bò viên. Asked for the waitperson to take the order and for some icy tap water as well.

Sitting there on my table, I noticed a rickety old Chinese couple on my far left, with hair as white as snow, busily inhaling their noodle. On the seat next to them were bags of Chinese dried herbs, which must’ve been purchased from the Chinese medicine store a block away. On a nearby table, an Italian-looking man had just finished his meal and fussily wiping his nose down with a well-used handkerchief, it seemed that he had a good meal.

The same waitperson suddenly reappeared with a small dish of chillies, a plate of Vietnamese mint and bean sprouts, and that jug of icy water I asked. I was distracted by the incessant chatter of the Asian guy sitting on the opposite table, chatting away to his Blackberry, finishing one call with another. As his girlfriend (I presume) walked in and sat in front of him, my pho arrived. At this point, I stopped paying attention and concentrated on my dish instead.

My meal arrived approximately 5 minutes from the time I ordered.

Bò viên - $10.50

I proceeded to drown the bean sprouts and mint in the soup. Though I don’t particularly like fresh mint, I'm starting to be acquainted with its taste. I let them steep for a few minutes before taking a tentative bite into the noodle. They were not as al-dente as I would have liked them to be, but at least they didn’t break as I pulled with my chopsticks. A taste of the soup told me that it was as good, if not different to Trà Vinh’s, in account of the coriander. As I slurped and chewed, I regretted not asking for the bean sprouts to be blanched first. Next time, perhaps.

The clock hit 11.30am and I was halfway through my meal, when suddenly droves of people came into the restaurant. One minute there were only four tables of two patrons each, the next about forty people in the restaurant were chatting away, drowning out the slurping sound I made as I continued to make a dent on my pho.

At the precise moment as I finished my meal, the thought that came into my head was, “Why is there a bottle of Mild American Mustard on the table? I must be missing something here.” I hastily put the thought away, downed the rest of the icy water and proceeded to pay for the meal at the counter with my credit card. I opened the door to the sweltering summer heat, pleased to have that last gulp of icy water. As I was making my way to the car, I thought to myself, "That wasn't too bad", though probably not enough to make a repeat visit and I was somewhat still disappointed with the uniform vacant-almost-zombie-like look of the waitpersons.

Viet Hoa on Urbanspoon
Viet Hoa
Unit 1, 349 William St
Northbridge WA
Open 7 days 10am-10pm

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