I was out and about early this Saturday morning. I was thinking I should get a haircut, and then to Richmond for a bowl of “pho” and some Asian grocery shopping.
The first time I was looking around for a haircut in South Yarra, I was surprised that most hair saloon charges anywhere between $55 and $75! And, it is just for a haircut! I guess like everything else, living cost is going up and up and up. It is always on an upward trend. Thankfully there are other places, like the standard barber shops, that offer a more affordable haircut for someone like me. Especially when my hair is always kept short every 3 weeks. There are a few of them at the Melbourne Central in the CBD. An easy hop on the train from South Yarra train station. Melbourne Central is an inner city shopping mall. It has an underground train station, a supermarket, a food court, small retail shops and several branded and boutique clothing stores.
After my haircut, I was back on the train to Richmond. From Melbourne Central Station to my next stop, North Richmond Station. There are, I think, four train stations at Richmond – North Richmond Station, West Richmond Station, East Richmond Station and Richmond Station. North Richmond Station is the closest station to Victoria Street, where there are shops after shops of great Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants, and lately a few Thai restaurants, and more trendy looking Asian restaurants closer to the city end of Victoria Street. In a way, I am glad that the street is not rapidly being gentrified with trendy looking restaurants. It looks the same as the first time I found this place 8 years ago. Most of the shops are still the same – the Asian grocery markets, butcher shops, seafood shops, Chinese Barbeque restaurants with the standard roast meats (duck, chicken and pork) hanging on a hook behind a glass shop front, a Vietnamese Chinese restaurant serving Yum-Cha, several Pho restaurants, and Vietnamese restaurants serving extensive dishes on their ala carte menu. It is an Asian paradise for food and fresh produces. Forget about Chinatown. This is the real place – busy and a bit grungy, and only a short train and Tram rides from the city.
I have been back over and over again. I have only skimmed the surface of Victoria Street, Richmond. I have been to a few of the pho restaurants – Hung Vuong 2 and I Love Pho, the Chinese Barbeque Restaurant – Pacific House and most recently today, Thanh Ha 2. There are several more restaurants along Victoria Street that I like to try, and many different Vietnamese food that I like to eat.
I was very tempted to go back to Hung Vuong 2 for my bowl of pho with beef slices. At the same time, I was in the mood to try a new place. Hence, Thanh Ha 2 for something different. I was very interested to try a Vietnamese style crispy skin chicken with broken rice – flashback to the many times that I have visited Cabramatta in NSW for this one shop that specialises only on their crispy skin chicken. But I ended up choosing something different – rice vermicelli with shredded pork and spring roll.
Thanh Ha 2 has a big menu. The list of dishes sounds interesting. A place I will go back again with a few friends to try the traditional Vietnamese dishes.
I enjoyed my bowl of vermicelli at Thanh Ha 2. It came with fresh bean sprouts, four spring rolls cut into halves and shreddred pork topped with crushed peanuts and garnished with chopped spring onions and mint leaves. There was a separate small bowl of light dressing – a mixture of fish sauce, white vinegar and sugar, which I poured over the bowl of noodle. Then mixed all the ingredients before eating. The dressing was quite subtle compared to few other places I have tried in the past. It was not that salty, sweet and sour. The noodle was served at room temperature, which made the dish refreshing and light to eat. It was a nice change from my all time favourite, “Pho”.