Dong Ba

133 Hopkins St
Footscray, VIC 3011
03 9689 0608

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for about half a year, you can tell from the old-style watermark. I think this was just about the time when I’d suddenly thought my Vietnamese and hawker food posts were starting to look like a progressive blur of the same ol’ things that I like ordering. But if you think about it, it’s the same thing with my brunch posts now. You see pictures and pictures and pictures of magic coffees! So I really shouldn’t be so dismissive towards hawker fare.
I’m a creature of habit. Vietnamese food, to me, can be quite hit and miss with the dishes, that’s why I order the same reliable ones that I know won’t cause dismay. Phở bò, gỏi cuốn, bún chà. I veer off that track occasionally when I feel adventurous enough and willing to face up to a disastrous dish, like the rather inedible bún măng vịt I ordered in Phở Tâm.

This meal happened as one of my regular (monthly?) Footscray dinner catch-ups with Wendee. We’re finally keeping in touch more, compared to last year, where we’d never meet for nearly the whole year!
Dong Ba sits on the opposite side of the street from where most of the Hopkins St eateries are located. It isn’t a very busy place, but I’ve seen it around for a long time now. Billy and Lauren have suggested that it’s got great bún bò huế spicy (beef and lemongrass noodles). When it comes to food in Footscray, I use their blogs like I’d use Urbanspoon. So Wendee and I crossed the road, and entered unexplored territory.
It was still just the start of Autumn then, warm enough for a refreshing iced coconut juice with my hot soupy meal. Coconut juice tastes best in Thailand, when it’s freshly cracked open from the fruit, with young soft flesh inside and a naturally sweet juice. This glass was okay.
If I remember correctly, Wendee was still recovering from a bout of gastro. So she went gentle and got the miến gà – chicken and bean vermicelli soup $9.50. In Singapore, I’d just call it tang hoon (glass noodle) soup, we’d normally eat clear soups of this type when we’re sick.
The soup was actually nice, not too salty, but still brothy enough to give some body to it. And I liked the taste of it because it somehow reminds me of kway teow t’hng (flat rice noodle soup with fish balls), a dish I sometimes enjoy having when I’m looking for something cleansing.

Of course, I ordered Dong Ba’s specialty dish, the bún bò huế (tái) – Hue style spicy beef noodle soup (with rare beef) $10. The soup was quite oily, but it had a definite lemongrass kick and a mild spiciness to it. Could be spicier. The noodles had a nice al-dente bite to it and good beef pieces were used. The herbage was also interestingly varied, it wasn’t just the usual thai basil and bean sprouts, there was purple cabbage, mint, lettuce and vietnamese mint, all which rendered an added depth of fragrance to the soup.
I think bún bò huế soups are not exactly my cup of tea, I won’t go craving for it on a normal day. But what I had here tasted pretty good and better than the bún bò huế I’ve had at other joints.

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Dong Ba on Urbanspoon