Victoria St this is not: Hanoi’s famed Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant

My father is this blog’s first foreign correspondent. On assignment in Hanoi just the other day, his camera phone snapped these images of how I wish Victoria St could be. I tell you, if you went to many places in old South East Asia and bought the entire fitout — well, perhaps not this restaurant’s — and installed it into some shell in Melbourne, you’d make a killing. This is the yellow fish restaurant. That’s all they sell, but it’s packed out. They don’t waste this stuff on the tourists, but very expensive and increasingly-difficult-to-come-by sauce made out of the eyes of particular insects is the traditional accompaniment. You just can’t buy this stuff in Victoria St, along with so much else of Vietnam’s glorious cuisine. More photos here.

Victoria St Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival

What are festivals coming to in this city? The Swedish Fair at the Swedish Church is what you might call a good festival, and the festivals out in the sticks which are genuine community celebrations by Buddhists, Hindus, Tibetans and Whathaveyous are beaut. But so many festivals are just so crud: the Lygon St Fiesta, the Antipodes Festival, and to a lesser extent, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival which was on yesterday. A festival is not a row of shops allowed to sell their things at outside tables, a stage with a band, and an Ikea van with some vaguely pan-Asian decorated kitchen. Am I being too harsh? Mine was a short visit. What do other people think? Continue reading “Victoria St Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival”

A trip to Footscray — the true Little Saigon — with Mr Nguyen

Herr Nguyen may be off to Seoul — good for his korea — and so we finally got round to driving over to Footscray to check out the thing that makes Victoria St look like a pale imitation. That thing is the Vietnamese market. I had long thought the Nguyens had been taking the train to the Footscray Market proper, but discovered that there is a second exclusively Vietnamese market, established in 1992. If you hanker after overseas travel but are short of cash, you could go and stay the night in Little Saigon. Once inside the Vietnamese Market, it only takes the ignoring of a small amount of English writing to suspend disbelief. Continue reading “A trip to Footscray — the true Little Saigon — with Mr Nguyen”