Đòng Quê, Footscray
June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
You like spring rolls. You must.
But you know those little cigar-shaped, tightly-wrapped-in-wheat-paper spring rolls that are served at most Vietnamese restaurants? They’re just ok compared to the fat, blistered, rice-paper-wrapped chewy sticky spring rolls served at Đòng Quê in Footscray. They are called Chả giò* Đòng Quê ($11), seem closer to the Hue-style of spring roll, and they are great. And, of course they are served with crunchy lettuce, a couple of types of mint and Nước chấm.
Đòng Quê serves Vietnamese cuisine that is regionally different from the standard (largely Southern) Vietnamese food you get in Melbourne restaurants. There’s a good reason why most of the food here is Southern; most Vietnamese families in Australia came from the South as refugees during and following the America-Vietnam war. So it’s not surprising. But it is really exciting going to Đòng Quê and having an opportunity to stray from the dishes we normally see, especially these spring rolls.
My other standard order at Đòng Quê is a rice-cracker sandwich that I believe is called Bánh Đập Thịt Nướng (steamed rice paper with grilled pork and rice cracker) ($11). Enclosing lovely sticky rice paper and caramelised pieces of pork, the rice cracker comes with a dipping sauce that visibly has fermented shrimp paste in it (it’s a bit purple) which some people find scary. Don’t be scared, in this version it is quite mild. That said, I prefer to dip the rice cracker into the spicier Nước chấm that comes with my spring rolls. So do what you want. Unless what you want is soy sauce because that is WRONG.
Isn’t it lovely:
Even their version of the standard chicken-on-vermicelli-with-veg (Bún gà nướng?) is a particularly good one. The pieces of chicken had a lovely star anise spice to them, and were interesting and juicy parts of the chicken. And they do have an ok version of Bún Chả Cá Thăng Long ($18), which is a Hanoian dish of firm white fish cooked fast and hot with turmeric and dill. But I’d recommend eating this when you go to Hanoi as it’s so much better there, even at the tourist-trap places, or try to make it yourself (it’s on my list of things to do).
The fit-out at Đòng Quê is pretty standard even if the food isn’t: bright green tables and two big tvs, and I’ve never seen it empty or overly-full, but it does seem popular for takeaways. They also serve a Vietnamese beer, 333 and I would recommend going there just for the spring rolls and a beer before heading elsewhere for phở if that’s what you’re craving (never get phở at a restaurant that doesn’t specialise in it. That’s foolish). Most of the good dishes at Đòng Quê are in pictures on the wall, so you can point (yay!) and next time I go, I’m trying the fried flounder, to go alongside my Chả giò and Bánh Đập Thịt Nướng. I’ll let you know how it goes.
* Spring rolls are generally called chả giò or nem in Vietnam. The former is pronounced (very very roughly) djah zeuh OR djah yeuh. Pretty depressing if you’re trying to learn Vietnamese (I’m not).
102 Hopkins Street
Tel: 03 9689 4392
Open 10 am till 10 pm