Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ha Long Bay, Richmond by Bureaucrat

Ha Long Bay was one of the places I missed while I was living in the gulag that is London. I missed the tasty food and the low, low prices.

HLB is my favourite 'cheap eats' place. The only negative in my book is that I live relatively far from it. For those (many) work nights when I can't be bothered to cook, I yearn for its spring rolls, rice paper rolls, pho, grilled pork vermicelli, salt and pepper calamari all washed down with a custard apple mocktail. After yearning, I then regret not living closer to Richmond. Sometimes this self pity is doubled when I can't even go to my second best place,Danny's Kopitiam, which is closer to me but not open all days, for my quick and tasty nosh.

Over the years of eating at HLB, we haven’t really tried much of the many items on the menu. This is basically because we have our favourite dishes and when you’ve found a good thing, you stick to it. Each time I do wonder if I should go crazy and order something new, but that would mean I wouldn’t be able to order my favourites...such decisions are hard. The following dishes here are most of our favourites.

Pork and prawn spring rolls. Tightly wrapped spring rolls with a minced pork and prawn filling. Always served perfectly crunchy and golden, with crisp lettuce, Thai basil and nuoc cham.

Prawn rice paper rolls. For the days when I need to go gluten-free and/or it’s a really hot day, I order the rice paper rolls. A reasonable amount of prawns in each roll, which are served with the chunky peanut sauce.

You can get this chicken salad as an entree (shown above) or as a main dish. It’s a wonderful, zingy and refreshing salad made with poached chicken, carrot, red onion, cucumber, coriander and mint.

Beef pho. Wonderful on colder days. Rich broth with lots of thinly sliced beef and onions and the slippery noodles.

This is the prawn and pork rice noodle. I’ve never actually had it before. It’s Bubba Chuck’s favourite – she can pretty much eat most of this in one sitting. From what I’ve seen, there’s sliced pork, prawns, garlic chives and a quail egg (although Bubba Chuck is a VIP here and sometimes gets a few extra eggs).

Now this is my favourite – grilled pork with vermicelli. It’s a warm noodle dish. In the bowl is a big mound of vermicelli, which is then topped with lots of aromatic and tender grilled pork, shredded lettuce, beanshoots, toasted peanuts, holy basil and mint. You mix it all up with as much or as little nuoc cham. This great on a hot day – it’s light, refreshing but satisfying at the same time.

Tender diced beef which has been stir fried with lots of garlic. It’s served with this white pepper and salt powder on the side.

Beef hor fun. We just can’t resist hor fun in my family. But as I can get a pretty tasty hor fun at Danny’s Kopitiam, I tend not to order this myself. I far prefer the pho and the other noodle dishes at HLB.

Regardless of whether how hot or cold the weather is, I always order a custard apple mocktail. I love it. It’s like a thick Slurpee but made with custard apples. I’ve always tried to look for tinned custard apple, because I’m fairly sure that that’s the way they make this drink. But I still haven’t been able to find them in the Asian shops. The other drink is a three colour drink that Mr Strong and the Lawyer tends to order.

We’ve been eating at HLB for many, many years for lunch and dinner. The food is cheap, tasty and the quality and service is always good. You may also want to have a gander at Big Fil’s review of HLB back in August 2010.

The only slight negative is that the drinks always take really long to get served. It’s not unusual for you to receive your drinks after you’ve eaten the entrees and you’re already getting stuck into your main dish.

Food – 9.5
Price – 10
Ambience – 7.5
Service – 7.5

Ha Long Bay
82 Victoria St
Richmond 3121
Telephone: 9429 3268

Ha Long Bay on Urbanspoon

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