Friday 25 April 2014

Twee's Hut

Shop 26, 343, Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Twee's Hut on Urbanspoon
This is a bit of a gem and in the same genre as Roll'd - a funkyed up Vietnamese eatery with a more contemporary feel, except it hasn't been given a franchise treatment yet. How does it measure up? I think it does better than Roll'd and is more authentic and the food feels like it has been prepared with more love and pride.

The Place
This is set up like a fast food joint and pretty basic and simple layout. A no fuss eatery that's great for a quick lunch, any busy day of the week. They manage to keep it relatively clean despite the high turnover of customers and constantly flow of diners.

Things to do nearby: This is just across the lane from Galleria and less than 5 minutes walk to either Collins Street or Bourke Street Mall.

The Food
Hue Noodles
I have had both Hue Noodles and Classic Saigon style Vietnamese noodles here, and they are pretty good and certainly better than Roll'd in my opinion. There is a very strong hint of lemongrass in the soups here and while it doesn't have the grunginess of the eateries in Richmond or Footscray, you can expect tasty soup here. Don't expect intestines, blood jelly, tendon here - they stick to the basic chicken and beef slices.

I do like the Hue Noodles they have here because it's not overly greasy, and still packs a punch in the soup. This is quite different to the usual beef noodles most Melbournians are used to. I like it because I like the beef slices, the sausage, the thicker rice noodles (see below) and the spicy soup. If there's one criticism of that might be leveled - it's that they are not as generous as some of the more traditional places with their beanshoots and lemon.

The Service
This place has a fast food outlet sensibility, so you have to order at the counter and while they were a bit organised at the start, they seem very much more on top of things now that they have had some experience with the crazy lunch time crowd. Always friendly, if harried, they are more likely to make conversation with punters if they are not crazy busy. They will also take time to explain the dishes and clear take pride in their food. I like this place for a quick lunch because I like people who serve their food with a smile.

It's a good place to go to if you are after basic Viet fare. Other reviewers have also raved about the crispy pork and I can't wait to try this. I have tried to order it before but was too late in the day and they had run out. I will definitely be visiting again.

Cultural Moment
Some people get so used to "old school" approaches to ethnic cuisines that anything that moves a bit away from what they used to might be seen as authentic. Twee's Hut and Roll'd would fall into this new more contemporary way of doing things. Gone are the bright lights, wall to wall mirror, free cheap tea and greasy chilli paste. In with funky names, less grease, less choice, and less "special combinations". I don't have a problem with any of these - there is a time and place for both "old school" and contemporary approaches. You just have to know what you are in the mood for.

To be honest, my main challenge with the contemporary approach is the demise of "special combinations" - which basically refers to the various other parts of the cow (including tendon, innards, blood jelly, pizzle, marrow) or chicken (giblets, liver, skin). Yes! They can contribute to high cholesterol but I am not having them every day and I'd like the option. I hope this art form doesn't disappear and I wish for contemporary approaches to include this in their repertoire, but that's just me. As they say in Vietnam, I LOVE phở.

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