Having passed Blue Bamboo on the odd occasion and having made some assumptions, I was skeptical when my Sri Lankan friend (bless his heart) complimented the restaurant for having a wonderful back eating area that reminded him of Vietnam. This immediately sparked my interest and one fateful day, all the pieces fell together and we were en route to Blue Bamboo. For those who don’t know me, I am Australian-born to Vietnamese parents. My Mom is from the South while my old man who was originally from the North, found his way South and decided to chill for longer than he anticipated. The power of love is strong, people.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m no stranger to Vietnamese cuisine and without being biased it does take a lot for me to be impressed, especially if you tout to be a specialty restaurant. However, Blue Bamboo simply describes itself as Vietnamese restaurant and cafe and I come in without any expectations.
We enter and I am somewhat disappointed. By how typically Vietnamese the layout of Blue Bamboo decides to present itself. The staff were very nice and my friend requested to dine in the back and for a brief moment I almost forgot about the outdoor dining area. We continue through the restaurant and enter what seemed like an entirely different setting.
Amazing. For all the Blue Bamboo first timers that joined us, we were in awe. Absolutely awesome scenery for such a sunny Melbourne day, I instantly adored this place and couldn’t stop myself from getting all the angles of the outdoor garden. I couldn’t agree more with my friend and felt we were back in Vietnam at a local coffee shop, relaxing to a glass of Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) and people watching as they go about their daily business. I think what surprised me the most, was the fact it was unexpected partly due to it’s location. Braybrook isn’t exactly the suburb people would think of for hidden gem restaurants like this and definitely not on this strip of graffiti filled walls and shops that have clearly past their heydays. But let’s move on to the food.
Not exactly food, but I really liked this tea pot for some reason. It was a nice change from the thermos that are widely used in most Vietnamese restaurants and it was easy to pour.
First round, entrees.
The spring rolls were piping hot and went well with the Nuoc Cham (Sweetened fish sauce with diced chilli and garlic) provided after you wrap that bad boy in the lettuce provided. I always order the chicken spare rib at every restaurant I go to just to compare the differences and maybe one day I can find the best version that caters to my preferences. The spare ribs here had a drier exterior which turned out to be very crispy and wasn’t dry surprisingly. It was well seasoned. Thumbs up. The special fried rice was very average but had a very slight wok hei flavour (that’s the smokey flavour from the wok, for those that don’t know!) that I liked. My friend ordered the Salt and Pepper Prawns but were served the above in what looked like Deep fried prawns in batter. Wasn’t what he was after and tasted like your average deep fried prawn.
I am a Pho dipper. I’ll explain. I used to drench my pho in Hoisin sauce (along with chilli oil, sriracha etc.) and never dipped anything and was content with my life decisions. However, after several years I started to notice that I was only tasting the Hoisin sauce and nothing else, which in my opinion was wasteful because you’re not really tasting the broth which is the whole point of Pho. But to each their own. I have since then, only used Hoisin for dipping and tasting the broth in it’s natural untainted state. I guess you could say I’m a Pho purist. A Phourist. Okay, I’ll stop.
Anyways. While there was nothing wrong with the broth my main issue was with the temperature, it arrived lukewarm and my friend who also ordered pho confirmed he had the same issue. Nothing disappoints me more than lukewarm soup dishes but, everything else in the bowl was good. Especially the brisket which is the first I’ve seen served in chunks that were really tender and fell apart effortlessly.
Everyone else had no complaints of their dishes either, so I can conclude an all round solid effort even with the hiccup with the prawn entree.
I’ll definitely come back especially when I feel like having a feed in the outdoor dining area again. I hope the Pho will be hotter next time!
3.5 moustaches out of 5