Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quan Viet, Braybrook

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My friend wrote to me recently with a scandalous confession.  "I have never eaten Vietnamese food before," she confided.  "Will you teach me?"  Absolutely!!  Where else better to do it too than her new local Quan Viet which has opened on the site of an old chicken shop in South Road, Braybrook.

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Sometimes when something is the only "one" in an area, you worry they have no bar to meet.  Not so here - the food is unreal and there are heaps of interesting regional specialties from the southern part of Vietnam's eastern coastline.  It's only small but the decor is lovely, contemporary yet colourful.  With six kids between us, we made so much mess and noise but no-one minded a jot.

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Some rocket fuel to get the tummies rumbling.  J remarked that Vietnamese coffee tastes like Tootsie Rolls - I have to concur!  Don't suck it down too fast, let the ice melt a little to create a long, cold drink.

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Nem cuon Nha Trang (Nha Trang grilled pork patties rice paper rolls), $9

These are a house special and a delicacy from Nha Trang in south-eastern Vietnam.  They are freshly rolled with chargrilled nem nuong pork patties (very springy from the baking powder and very finely ground pork used), a skinny, crunchy spring roll with a little spring onion inside, and plenty of fresh herbs and vegies.  The sauce is totally new to me.  It was orange, smooth, mild and lip-smackingly good!  We asked and were told it contained pork - maybe this is it.  These are fabulous in flavour and in texture, with juicy, smoky meat, the crunch of the roll and the sweet, cool vegies.  See here for a home-style banquet of these rolls.

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Banh hoi dac biet (sugarcane prawn, grilled pork & spring rolls on angel vermicelli), $12

Poor J - I was torn between wanting to show her the classics and selfishly wanting to try unusual things!  Luckily Quan Viet offers this fantastic combo which means you can have your spring rolls but eat your sugarcane prawns too.  Take a cup of lettuce, fill with herbs and a "mat" of very fine vermicelli (they come in little squares), lay with your choice of spring roll, sugarcane prawn (prawn mince molded around sugarcane and fried/grilled) or excellent, smoky, juicy grilled pork.  Roll up tight and dip in fish sauce.  The classic Vietnamese flavour combo - superb.

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Com bo luc lac (Shaken beef on rice), $9

This was J's favourite dish of the day and indeed it was excellent.  It's called shaken or shaking beef for the motion of the searing hot wok as you quickly toss cubes of beef back and forth.  The beef here was really tender and juicy. To be really authentic, it doesn't come with a thick cornflour-based sauce but the beef juices just speak for themselves, soaking into the classic tomato-red rice.  Here it was served with a dipping sauce made with just freshly-squeezed lime into a mix of salt and pepper.  Really great.

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Com tam dac biet (broken rice with pork spare rib, shredded pork, eggloaf, fried egg), $9

The Vietnamese everyman's meal - the most classic everyday lunch.  It may or may not come with a bowl of chicken broth but will come with a bowl of seasoned fish sauce for dousing.  The egg here was gorgeous with a runny, sunny yolk, atop a generous serve of broken rice.  The pork chop was delicious, big and meaty with a tasty, sweet marinade.

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Com chien cua (Crab meat fried rice), $11

I spotted a couple having a plate of this to themselves each.  It was fantastic - rich and tasty with soft shreds of egg and pieces of sweet, good quality crab meat.  This sort of fried rice isn't really for covering with another meat-based stir fry, but for enjoying on its own merits.

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Banh khot vung tau (Vung Tau Crispy Mini Rice Cake), $9

I went back with another friend recently to investigate more regional specialties at Quan Viet.  These are teeny little patty pan-sized steamed cakes made from coconut milk and rice flour (see here for a recipe).  Each is dotted with a juicy niblet of prawn and (I think) sprinkled with prawn floss (essentially ground dried prawns).  They taste just like mini banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake).  Roll up in lettuce with mint and pickled carrot and dip in classic seasoned fish sauce - a flavour and texture sensation!  These are very rarely seen on Melbourne restaurant menus - Alan enjoyed some at Richmond's Thanh Ha 2.

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Mi ga chien don (egg noodle with crispy chicken), $9

When we came here originally, we totally neglected the other side of the Vietnamese food coin - all its soups in their sweet, sour, herbaceous or chilli-slicked glory.  This is a naughty favourite of mine - a bowl of egg noodles in flavoursome chicken broth, with a crispy fried chicken Maryland on the side.  Oh my!  The chicken was awesome, the skin crackly and gorgeous and the meat succulent.  The noodles didn't rock my world though - I think they were dried rather than fresh, which is perfectly acceptable but I love that springiness fresh mi (egg noodles) have.

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I loved my meals here and really dig the neighbourhood vibe.  There are still more unusual goodies to check out on their menu like tom hoa tien, conical spring rolls apparently known as "rocket shrimp rolls", filled with crab and with a prawn tail poking cheekily out one end.  Lucky Braybrook residents can wander here on a summer's evening, and even if it's not within walking distance, I reckon it is worth the trip.

Check out Kenny's recent visit here.

Quan Viet on Urbanspoon

Quan Viet - Facebook - see menu below
103 South Road, Braybrook
Hours:  6 days, 10am-9pm - CLOSED TUESDAYS
Phone:  9312 1009


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quan viet p1

quan viet p2

24 comments:

  1. Honestly, this looks like one of the best Viet restaurants I've seen... I should've sussed out places to eat when I was in Braybrook!! You really are THE person to give a lesson on "Vietnamese Food-101" to your friends hahaha =D

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  2. Honestly, you are a marvel. I've lived west for many a year now, and the restaurants you find amaze me.
    This one looks a treat, and i an already planning a visit. The only hindrance... is the food OK for a 3yo? Are there less spicy tastes on the menu that you would recommend?

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  3. Going there! YUM! Thanks again!

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  4. Hi Winston and Ashley, thanks for stopping by! TKYC, yes, it will be great for a 3 y.o.! Vietnamese cuisine can actually be quite sweet and mild so I find it is perfect for kids. Nothing above was spicy at all apart from the dipping sauces, but they will do those with no chilli.

    I tend to get my kids the mixed pork chop meal (pictured above with egg). It's tasty and they like all the different textures, and can gnaw on the bones.

    I also get grilled chicken for them sometimes which is similar - marinated grilled chicken, rice and token salad veg. Chicken ribs are also good (ask for no chilli or just remove it quickly when it comes to the table as it will be scattered with a small amount of red chilli - ditto anything salt and pepper).

    The bo luc lac pictured above is tasty yet mild - depends how good they are at chewing though. The mini pancakes would probably be great too without being wrapped (sometimes wrapped things all fall apart in small hands, creating much angst).

    Sometimes I get them fried rice, not the Cantonese style with peas and sausage but the salted fish or here, the crab which is just as good but has more punchy, lovely fish sauce flavours. Salted fish sounds scary but it is crumbled up and you can't taste it - it also comes with chicken and egg and sometimes a bit of lettuce.

    Classic plain soups can be good (ie, not bun bo Hue - just something plain, like pork and prawn noodle soup or the mi ga chien pictured above). At the pho places in Footscray, they will give you a small bowl and scissors and you just chop up all the noodles and meat yourself for kiddos.

    If all else fais, get 'em some spring rolls or just a big bowl of plain rice! Mine ate plain rice for many months until they finally got curious about all the colours and aromas!

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  5. Nice decor!

    This selection of dishes has lured me in above all others so far. Yes, I realize the insane grandness of that statement. But the shaken beef looks so tender, and I've never had a mini rice cake so you've got me all intrigued.

    Plus, I love that this is in Braybrook. So close to J's Nan's that I told you about. A perfect excuse to take her out on a little outing :)

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  6. Love the baby blue menu, haha. Very curious about the mini rice cakes, and about as curious about the suburb, which I have never visited! That picture with the empty plot of land across the street somehow feels very compelling to me.

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  7. Thanks for link, Ms Bakler. Plain truth is, though, your effort makes ours look thoroughly slapdash and superficial. Where we basically saw "same old same old", you saw a profusion of regional specialties! Great job! Agree it's a good place, though!

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  8. I thought of you when I was posting it, Yasmeen! I hope Nan likes it. Ditto, I like the decor too. Thoughtful and harmonious.

    Bryan, Braybrook is a very interesting suburb. Great for taking photos. Lots of old fibro Commission houses, some privately owned now. Huge but often deserted park in shape of giant aeroplane, graffiti by disaffected youth...but thriving community garden and a very active "sharehood" in the community. Lots of contrasts.

    Kenny, it is great, isn't it? I just got lucky I went with a big group. Lots of photo opps! :)

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  9. Love your blog. I am building in Footscray at the moment, renting in Williamstown while the house is being built and just moved from Geelong area. Love reading about your journey moving to Footscray too, I am now looking forward to moving to Footscray even more!

    Am definitely going to try these places out when I move to the area!

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  10. Thank you Kat! I am sure you will love it as much as I do.

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  11. Good thing they had the combo dish - a great way of introducing a friend to a new cuisine. How did your friend rate it overall?

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  12. We just went there and loved it!!! Although the front of the menu we got is different from your photos. It actually used a motif from one of those massive wall hangings they have in there. Very Cute! The food was great but the crab in the fried rice was a bit of a let down, but the crispy mini rice cakes definitely warrant a revisit. And the people were really nice in there including the old man that fussed round our table, chased a random man with a cigarette and a wave, and then rode off on a bike! God I love the West!

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  13. Temasek yay!! Sorry no crab love but glad you liked the mini rice cakes - they are like those Dutch pancakes everyone goes mad for at markets, but savoury and Vietnamese!

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  14. BTW Adrian, she loved it. Bo luc lac was her favourite.

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  15. We went on Friday night and it was amazing - definitely will be eating there again to get our Vietnamese fix before we leave for Canada. Going to miss the west!

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  16. Man I am going here for sure! Coming your way soon, hopefully we can meet up?

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  17. Angela that is awesome! Yes Lauren I would love that!

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  18. holy heck! in braybrook! wonders will never cease! That's our next night out, cheers ms!

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  19. Went today after reading this blog!
    Wow ! Best viet I have had in along time and I live 500m from Victoria st .

    Great find thank you

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  20. Anon, did you come all the way from Richmond just to eat in Brayers? I am impressed! Glad the trip was worth it.

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  21. lol@rayna yes in braybrook! all we had was la porchetta haha..

    i just went to quan viet yesterday and i have to say that i was a bit cynical about visiting a viet restaurant in braybrook since the only place i go for viet food these days is footscray but as soon as i tasted their calamari i thought maybe i won't need to go all the way footscray as much as i do.. then i had the broken rice and spare pork ribs and thought yep its official.. footscray will now only be visited if i'm hungry for viet food whilst driving through there

    i also tried my other friends food.. the prawn and pork spring rolls.. a soup with crab meat in it (sorry didn't see what it was called) and the pho.. and they were all really good will definitely be visiting them again

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  22. I was taken to La Porchetta Braybrook for mother's day once. The fact that it is now a "we can laugh about it now" moment is telling of the experience itself! Ricky, so glad you liked it - thanks for the calamari tip! I really love Quan Viet. The couple who run it are super sweet too. Lucky Braybrook!

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  23. You are awesome - I love reading your blog - I live in the west and am always visiting your blog when I need inspiration for new places to try!! Thanks!

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    1. Aw Rebecca that means a lot! Thanks so much! :-D

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