To cure what ails: Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Soup is great to cure a lot of things. I’ve been having a lot of it lately. The Vietnamese are smart people… they recognise the power that a good soup can have, when extrapolated to it’s natural conclusion, the meal in a bowl.

For a while now I’ve been appreciating the comfort that a steaming bowl of ph? can deliver. The combination of thin slices of beef, mint, chilli, bean shoots, rice noodles… all mingling together in a well crafted stock, creating an experience that totals more than the sum of it’s parts.

Along the same lines then, I present to you “Hu Tieu Bo Kho”. Hu Tieu is a type of rice noodle, Bo means beef, and kho literally means braised, but more specifically refers to a style of thicker soup in which meats are cooked. So what you get when you put them all together is a lovely rich soup full of chunks of tender beef (brisket or chuck seem to be popular), with carrots, bean sprouts, and some of the other typical pho accompaniments. The soup is flavoured with star anise, lemongrass, and five spice, and seems to vary in consistency and intensity amongst my beloved top end of William Street ‘Little Vietnam’ area restaurants.

I could eat this every day of the week… such is the simple joy it brings.

You can find this one here:

Vinh Hong Restaurant
2/399 William Street
Phone: (08) 9227 1899

Big Bowl – Noodle House

Pork & Chive Dumpling Noodle Soup

How very remiss of me to miss this lovely little spot out for so long. Big Bowl has been a welcome addition to the upper end of William St in Northbridge for a good year or so now, and has not disappointed every time I’ve been in.

The “gimmick”, if you can call it that, is that all of their noodles are made fresh to order for all the various dishes they serve.
There are two large machines behind the counter with big signs on them saying “No Photo!” that I was careful to respect, which would appear to be the driving force behind the fresh noodle phenomenon. It has a large container on the top full of flour, and various mechanisms that I assume add water and salt and mix the whole batch together, then spits the noodles out the other end, either of the thick or thin variety.

These noodles then find their way into an assortment of dishes of various types. There’s wonton noodle soup, char kway teow, something vaguely reminiscent of spaghetti bolognaise, and a few baked noodle dishes that taste a bit like macaroni cheese.

Regardless of what you’re after, there’s something to please just about everyone, and clearly people are pleased. A casual Monday afternoon lunch today saw the place as a hive of activity, with not a spare seat in the place, and a steady flow of people in and out hoping to snag a table.

The fact that it’s hugely popular with the local Chinese community means that there’s not a lot of reading material besides the local “Asia Times” newspaper, that I casually flick through on occasion just to put a lingering doubt into the minds of nearby Chinese speakers who might wonder if I can actually understand any of it.

Still, the place is friendly, clean, and simply appointed, and service is always accompanied by a smile and a laugh.

If you’re looking for a quick / cheap / tasty lunch or dinner option in Northbridge, I can highly recommend Big Bowl. Most of the dishes range from $8 – $12 maximum, and represent great value.

Do yourself a favour and try the Big Bowl on for size :)

Big Bowl

408 William Street
Opening Hours: 11:30AM to 8:30PM (Closed Wednesday)
Phone: 9228 4448


Wagamama – Positive Eating ?


See how I put the question mark at the end of title… ? That’s called setting the tone.

I don’t really want to spend a lot of time talking about Wagamama, and I think in future I’ll be spending even less time in their restaurants. It was plainly one of the most dismal experiences I have had in a long time.

Now granted I have an issue with chain restaurants and franchises to begin with. I personally think they degrade the entire nature of hospitality, and do not allow for any kind of individuality or creativity. My concept of restaurant perfection is a place that has the freedom to do what they want with the local produce they can source, who have a commitment to quality service and a genuine love of making excellent food. The idea that you can wrap all of that up into a little ball and slap one down wherever you want and have it work, just doesn’t sit well with me.

So Sharon and I headed into Wagamama last Tuesday evening, more because we heard it had opened and wanted to know what all the fuss was about than anything else. We probably should have gone in when the hype was still going on in February when it first opened…. but I’m slow like that.

Duck Gyoza with Hoisin

First off I ordered the duck gyoza. It was dry and crusty, and what was inside could barely be distinguished as duck after dipping it in the hoisin sauce, which completely obliterated any flavour by enveloping it in an overpowering salty tang. Not good.

Chilli Beef Ramen

Sharon ordered the Chilli Beed Ramen… in her opinion, the beef was tough and the soup tasted like chilli flavoured water. Bland and disappointing for a place that compares itself to traditional establishments that have such pride in their food.

Teryaki Steak Soba

The final straw was my teryaki steak soba. A “favourite” according to the menu. It was $17, and whilst mildly tasty, took about 3 minutes in total for me to consume, even though I was consciously pacing myself to try and not finish too soon before Sharon, who was struggling to get through the ramen.

Add to that the fact that it the wine list was a joke (the best wine on their was a Stony Peak Shiraz Cabernet that I have had the pleasure of sampling at many a cheapskate companies “social” function. In a word, nasty), and the water I requested came in a bottle I was charged for without telling me so.

I seriously think it took longer for us to get out of the place, than it did to eat our meal. We were waiting for about 15 minutes while the assorted waiters/waitresses ran around with confused looks on their faces trying to process one groups bill. I was then escorted out to back to another cash register tucked into the hall way between the kitchen and the dining room, surrounded by bins, boxes, and other assorted crap.

So all in all, an unenjoyable experience. For me, Wagamama is what a place would look like if Richard Branson decided to go into the restaurant business. Lots of funky looking people and funky looking menu’s and amicable sounding values about keeping it real and bring you value, and absolutely bugger all content.

Sorry for straying away from my normal style of posting only positive sounding reviews, but really… places like this just get to me… If you like the place, good for you, I guess some people will have better experiences than I did, but if you’re looking for value for money and quality food, this is not the place to go.

Over and out.