Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Yen Yen Vietnamese Restaurant (CHANGED HANDS AND UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT AS OF EARLY 2014)

371, High Street, Northcote, VIC 3070

Yen Yen on Urbanspoon

Scoring a 70% from very few ratings, this is a relatively new establishment. I actually think it's the best of the 3 Vietnamese joints that have opened up on High Street, Northcote, in the last 3 years or so. Mainly, because I think it's the most Vietnamese of the three (of the other 2, I think, one is really westernised and the other is more Chinese). This is also a licensed venue.

The Place
Similar to many Vietnamese Restaurants of its kind, the tiles look a bit tired (though the restaurant opened only recently) and the deco consists of various Vietnamese enamel wood paintings. It's a rather no-frills place. Parking is usually easy with a big car park just behind the shop.

Other things to do nearby: Situated on High Street in Northcote, you have the shops there and Northcote Shopping Centre, a small tired shopping mall nearby. The shops on High Street are much more interesting.

The Food
The food here is not bad, depending on what you order. Again, if you focus on key Vietnamese staples, you can't go wrong;

Pho / Beef Noodles; not bad here though not the best in Melbourne.
Broken Rice: their combination special broken rice is really quite good though my complaint is always that I wish there was more. :)
Vietnamese Coleslaw: really fresh, tangy and yummy. Simple and lovely in summer.

Again, not the place I would order things like Mongolian beef, or curry... because those are just not Vietnamese dishes.

The Service
The service is not bad and I would call it unintrusive politeness. Having said that, sometimes, they 'get lost' in the kitchen, and don't have enough staff to see what's going on in the main dining area. So, punters could be left trying to get their attention.

Overall
I think this is quite a cheap and cheerful place, that I would quite happily come through to have a quick meal before I am on my way to do other things. There is no fuss and the food is pretty good though it's not comparable to some of the places in Richmond or Footscray.

Cultural Moment
Broken Rice (Cơm tấm) refers to the broken rice grains - hence, you'll see that there are not full grains. In the past, this would have been the left overs and cheaper grade rice, consumed more commonly amongst the poorer sections of society. The broken rice gives it a different texture to full grain rice. It is more popular in Southern Vietnam around Ho Chi Minh City. It is now served more widely and there are restaurants that specialise in seving this dish.

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