It's taken me a while to write this post. I have restarted a number of times, trying to be write a fair and accurate reflection of my experience of the food here. The main reason why it has been difficult is because while in some ways Minh Xuong is just another cheapish, mediocre Chinatown restaurant, somewhere I've had some pretty forgettable meals, on other occasions it's been excellent.
Admittedly the common theme to the good meals is easy to identify - the roast and barbeque meats. At worst they are some of the better in town, but at their best they verge on the sublime. It's not just me who thinks so, Chinese Malaysian and Canadian friends have all loved the meats from here.
I particularly like the char siu (roast pork), which is a bit of a complement given it's not my favourite style of pork. It's delicious in flavour, nicely textured and unlike many places where it can be quite dry still moist and juicy. In fact, it's probably the best char siu I've had in Melbourne including in restaurants. The duck is almost as good, meaty not oily and with respectably crispy skin. The soya chicken and siu yuk (crispy pork) don't let the team down either, to the extent that it's sometimes hard to decide which meats to order.
The meats are usually at their best in the morning but even late in the day, when they may have been hanging for a while in the window, they have let to really let me down.
Unfortunately the same can't be said about some of the other meals. And on the day I visited with Bureaucrat neither of us ordered the meats. So it's probably our own fault that we didn't have a great experience.
At least in my defence I did get the roast pork omelette on rice. It was a generous serve but mainly because of the large amount of rice provided. This may not have been an issue if the rice was good but it was a little hard and dry. With the omelette itself the meat was of good quality but the omelette could have been a bit larger. So while I thought it was a reasonable meal, it wasn't what I had anticipated when choosing Minh Xuong.
Bureaucrat had a hankering for char kway teoh (fried rice noodles), a typically Chinese Malaysian dish and I thought a slightly strange choice for a Hong Kong style restaurant. It's a few weeks ago now but my main recollection is of a dish lacking any wok hei (breath of the wok). So while the serve was generous (particularly the amount of noodle) I wasn't terribly impressed. This is pretty consistent with my experience of this dish outside of Malaysian restaurants. Bureaucrat thought the dish was overly salty and oily, and because of that, didn't finish eating the dish.
A pretty typical cheap-end Chinatown restaurant in terms of service, layout and price. While some of the food is mediocre what can raise it above its competitors is the meats hanging in the windows. If in the mood for barbeque or roast meat Minh Xuong is an excellent choice, but if your preference is for something else you might be better off elsewhere.
Food - 6.5 (our selections on the day)
Service - 6.5
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 7
209-211 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 2895