Queen's Rose The Sun - sounds like an old-man pub, doesn't it? It was only chance that made us park right outside this tiny Sunshine restaurant. We were planning a trip to big, bright and shiny Thuan An for fabulous goat curry, but I felt some sort of undertow to try this unassuming little eatery out. How glad we were we did!
Eating at 5.00 pm meant we were the only patrons and we had plenty of room to spread out. The lovely waiter brought ceramic bowls for the grownups and plastic bowls for the kiddos, who amused themselves staring at the lonely barramundi hovering in his tank.
Nem cha ran Ha Noi, $17
This wins Footscray Food Blog's unashamedly subjective award for best dish of 2010!!! Nem ran is the Northern Vietnamese name for the classic spring rolls or cha gio, as they are known in the South. Cha gio were traditionally made with rice paper (as are rice paper rolls or goi cuon) but when the Vietnamese diaspora arrived in Australia, only Chinese wheat wrappers were available, and due to what I imagine is their comparative hardiness, wheat wrapping has persevered. I have had nem ran like this at Dong Que in Footscray, but Queen's Rose The Sun's version was different again. The nem ran were actually more like a patty or nem nuong, wrapped in rice paper to form a square packet, fried and then chopped into quarters.
The meat filling was sublime - juicy, porky with cloud ear fungus (bad translation, delicious, textural foodstuff) and rice vermicelli. The wrapper was supremely crunchy and totally non-greasy. It came with a generous helping of warm rice vermicelli, a plate of lettuce, bean sprouts and mixed mints including purple perilla leaf, as well as perfectly balanced nuoc cham or sweet dipping sauce. We were instructed to make up our own warm salads. Such a simple, healthy meal yet perfectly rendered. Amazing!
Bo chien don, $13.80
Queen's Rose The Sun has plenty of unique dishes on their menu, such as this bo chien don, described as "stir fried beef with malt and honey sauce". It came as deep-fried thin slices of beef with a very malty, almost molasses-like sweet and musky sauce. I thought the malt was actually quite overpowering but Mr Baklover loved it. A good dish for a sharing table, perhaps.
Rau Cai Xao Dau Hu, $9
There were plenty of interesting vegie side dishes on the menu like kangkong or "water convolvulus" with preserved bean curd or shrimp paste, or even a simple "stir fried bean curd with bean shoot". That would be taking it too far for the Bak-kids, though. I'm not kidding anyone, really, as I love stir-fried vegies done simply like this. These were great - I do prefer less sauce, but when it is this tasty, I can live with it.
The other impression I had when we left was there was zero MSG thirst afterwards. I will report back again after trying a soup here, as stocks traditionally harbour the most MSG, but it was literally refreshing to not have that creeping, insatiable thirst and burning throat that often follows a (quite delicious) yum cha or bowl of pho.
How fortuitous that we stumbled into this little Sunshine gem. The prices were very reasonable, too. It will be hard to go past the nem cha ran Ha Noi next time, but perhaps Mr Barramundi can be our next course - yum yum!
Queen's Rose The Sun
229 Hampshire Road, Sunshine (map)
Phone: 9310 2887
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-9.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm
Layout: Could accommodate