807 Bourke St
Docklands, VIC 3008
03 8080 9699

I’m probably one of the laziest buggers on earth when it comes to exercise. About the only incentive to get me up and going is the activity’s fun factor. I’ve been an absolute pomme de terre (potato) since my trip to France last October. But now that the we’re back in January and I’m no longer swamped and exhausted by extra shifts at work, I have no more excuses to not go back to dance classes.

Banoi Docklands 9837

The day that I lunched here, I’d gone for my second class for the year, and I’ll have to say that exercise and dance does lift the spirits significantly. I suddenly became more cheerful and bubbly at work! And OMG have I got a fun-loving (and hilariously camp) teacher for my class. Today after we did a short movement phrase, he said to us “I’m starving, and it isn’t helping that you guys are looking so DELICIOUS!”.

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Which brings me to this lunch scene that happened after that Saturday’s dance class… see the beautiful mess that we’d made on our table!

I’ve been finding it difficult to stay in touch with my friends these days now that I’m seeing Fatbee. So when Damo suggested a catch-up, I was more than happy to do that. It turned out to be a triple date… Fatbee and myself, Fakegf and her Ang Moh, Damo and his date.

Banoi Docklands 1VN Iced Coffee 3.8

All of the gay boys were a touch late, so Fakegf and The Angmoh started first with a serve of rice paper rolls (not pictured, devoured by the time we arrived) and a cuppa Vietnamese ice coffee. The little sip that I had of the coffee revealed a rich and deeply aromatic drink, very similar to great Singapore ice kopi. Very nice.

Banoi Docklands 2Kakuni Pork Belly w/ pumpkin puree, candied chillis & roasted sesame rice paper rolls 6.8
Lychee Crush 4.0

Here’s Damo and his date’s choice of rolls, paired with a rather delightful looking lychee crush drink. They seemed to have enjoyed both items.

Banoi Docklands 3Custard Apple Smoothie 4.0 | Prawn & taro fritter rice paper rolls 6.8

And here’s what Fatbee and I picked as starters. The rolls were lovely and very freshly made with beautifully crisp prawn-taro fritters inside. The rolls were fat and could’ve afforded having a tiny bit more prawn in it. It came with sweet chilli dipping sauce, but I found myself stealing the lighter nuoc cham-like dipping sauce that came with Damo’s rolls.

The smoothie was alright but it was blunted slightly with milk powder (I believe). I prefer the equivalent smoothies in many of Footscray’s eateries where the fresh custard apple is more prevalent.

Banoi Docklands 9826Banoi Docklands 9825Lemongrass Beef bun cha w/ imperial spring rolls 12.0
Soft Shell Crab bun cha w/ imperial spring rolls 13.0

Our lunch choices revolved around bún chả (rice vermicelli with salad & grilled items) or phở (noodle soup) for mains. Bánh xèo is only available at dinner time. Funnily, each couple picked one bun cha dish, and a pho!

All of the bun cha came with pickled carrot, daikon, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts and mixed Asian herbs. Damo had lemongrass while Fakegf enjoyed soft shell crab bun cha. I must say Fakegf’s bowl looked amazing, with crunchy filo-like (taro?) spring rolls and delectably crisp crabs. I was jealous.

Banoi Docklands 9828Wok tossed fried silken tofu bun cha & veg spring rolls 11.0

Fatbee had a more vegetarian version of bun cha. While the sauce’s flavour profile was quite different to the bun cha that we’re used to having, the ingredients were very fresh and the fried silken tofu was excellent. I could grow to like this version… again, I was jealous!

Banoi Docklands 9829Banoi Docklands 9830Rare wagyu beef pho w/ extra beef brisket & meat ball 13.0
Rare wagyu beef pho 11.0 

And here’s the reason why I had food envy twice! As delicious as both bowls of pho looked, the broth somehow pulled an unusual sourish aftertaste (Fakegf said it was floral) that none of us appreciated. The broth could also have been richer and meatier.

As you know, a lot of the enjoyment in a bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle soup depends on good broth. Whether Wagyu beef was used or not makes no difference if the broth doesn’t deliver.

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While brisket and meat balls were available options as ‘extras’, I still missed having beef tripe and other beef cuts in my bowl, something you’d find in phở bò đặc biệt (beef noodle soup special combination) at more old school Vietnamese pho joints. I ended up pumping in ‘flavour’ into the soup by adding heaped spoonfuls of chilli oil…

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Don’t know about you, but I do love a messy scene of demolished food and empty plates. Aside for the beef pho, I thought that many of the dishes we had here were great. The ingredients used tasted very fresh and the flavours are well-balanced and quite contemporary. But thankfully… the prices aren’t contemporary!

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