Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yangs Hot Works

Location: 735 Mountain Hwy, Bayswater, VIC
Signature Dish: Dumplings
Pro-Tip: Make sure you put vinegar and chilli on your dumplings
Cost: < $10 per dish
Score: 6.5/10

As of a few years ago, these sorts of restaurants have turned up a lot.  Mainly situated around Box Hill and Glen Waverley (and likely Springvale although I am yet to spend much time there).  I think the correct term for a restaurant such as this is Chinese Cafe - although I could be horribly, horribly wrong.  This place, Yangs Hot Works, is situated in sunny Bayswater, which for anyone not familiar with the area, is neither near a bay or water.  

Shanghai Fried Noodles
A phenomenon I have noticed throughout my travels has been that most Chinese Cafe's basically have identical menus.  By identical, I don't mean just similar, but so much the same that even individual menu items have the same number.  This is a good thing, because you always know what you are getting yourself into, and makes it quite easy to compare various restaurants.  Eg, I always go for a number 1 - Steamed Peking pork dumplings.  Excellent benchmark.
Fried and steamed pork dumplings
Granted there generally isn't too much room for innovation with a more or less set menu, various places tend to put their own twists on things.  This place (and yes I'm aware this is a very lame example) has real tea! In teapots!
Special Chilli Beef on rice
If you want a quick, cheap feed that doesn't really go out of its way to be anything that its not - this, and many like it, are the way to go.  It is especially good hangover food as I have found out on many an occasion.  The service is slightly more friendly than most, and the location is pretty handy, servicing some of the nearby offices for lunch.  Not worth travelling for, but if you ever happen to be in the area, this is definitely worth a go.  One thumbs up.

Yang's Hot Woks Noodles & Dumplings on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pho Huong Viet

Location: 684 Mountain Hwy, Bayswater, VIC
Signature Dish: Pho
Pro-Tip: Don't forget to drink the soup as you go.
Cost: $10 for a large
Pho Huong Viet
Considering that I used to work within walking distance from this place, I only really started getting my Pho on in the last year or so.  Pho (pronounced 'fur' according to their business card) is considered the national dish of Vietnam.  I'm told that it can be eaten any time of the day, even breakfast, which I am yet to partake as this place opens at 10am, and I'm an early riser.  Pho is basically a big bowl of noodle soup.  I believe the authentic noodle is some sort of rice noodle, however I find the logistics of this quite difficult as they get very slippery and hard to pick up with chopsticks.  Also, I like egg noodles better and you can order that!  Also it comes with some meat (depending on what dish you order),  beanshoots, Vietnamese mint, some lemon and chilli.

Pho Huong Viet looks like that have inhabited an old 7-11 or something, and you can still see where the petrol pumps used to be in the parking lot.  Not that this really makes any difference to anything.  Just sayin is all.  They have recently upgraded their menu (and prices) to include a wider variety of dishes, but in my opinion, you come here for the Pho.  The rice paper rolls are nice too:

Rice Paper Rolls
There are many different Pho to choose from on the menu, I usually stick to sliced beef.   You may order it in small, medium or large.  Small starts at $8, but the large is where its at.  After I first discovered this place, I was always a little reluctant to eat here as I did not know the proper etiquette.  Luckily, I have since worked out what to do.  Shortly after your order is taken, a big dish of beanshoots comes out to your table, in anticipation of the arrival of your soup.    I'm sure there are many different ways of doing this, as per individual tastes, but what I do is this:  Tear up some Vietnamese mint and sprinkle it in your soup.  Pour in the chillis and squeeze the lemon.  Then get a big handful of beanshoots (remembering to reserve some for later) and throw that in, too.  Each table has at least two squeeze bottles of sauces.  One chilli and one hoisin.  I like to be generous with both.

Pho before addition of garnishes and sauces.
The large servings are very generous, and I rarely, if ever, walk away anything less than completely stuffed (win).  There is some sort of weird Tardis thing going on with the noodles.  They somehow manage to fit more noodles in the bowl than you'd think is physically possible.  This is also a win.  The service is usually good, and meals come out quite quickly, especially when ordering a Pho.  On Friday lunch times, the place gets very busy and hectic, and meals can take much longer.  At all times, there is unlimited flasks of Tea on each table.

While I'm sure there are many other Pho's around that are comparable to Huong Viet, out of all I've tried, this is so far my favourite.  It somehow manages to hit the mark on taste, perceived authenticity (I've never actually been to Vietnam) and atmosphere.  2 Thumbs up.
Pho Huong Viet on Urbanspoon