We had a new staff member join our Marketing team at work in the latter half of last year. She’s a bit quieter than most others in the team which can be a disadvantage as it means that while others are eagerly chatting around the staff room table about what they did on the weekend, her voice and contribution can get lost.
I was lucky enough to be able to go out on a one-on-one lunch with her in the last working week of 2014. She generously offered to treat me out to lunch to celebrate my wedding, and I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with her one-on-one without the constant interruptions of more vocal people in the office. And for good reason too – in this one lunch hour, I got to know more about her than I had in the four months that we had been working together!
We decided to go to the new Mama’s Buoi that had recently opened up the road in Crows Nest. While I’ve never been to the original Surry Hills branch, I’d heard enough good things to make me keen to try their offerings in Crows Nest!
She wasn’t very familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, so decided to try the classic dish of Pho Bo as a basic introduction to Vietnamese food. Mama’s Buoi’s Pho Bo is slightly different – it’s a ‘special’ beef pho that includes beef balls and tripe with the usual thinly sliced rare beef. It’s not something that would appeal to all – tripe can be divisive! – but the rare beef and beef balls are always a winner. My colleague enjoyed the clear, slightly sweet, broth, and I enjoyed showing her how to personalise pho with toppings of crunchy bean sprouts and fresh herbs and chillies!
I ordered one of my ‘go to’ dishes whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant and am feeling particularly virtuous – a vermicelli noodle salad. It’s a ‘salad’ so it’s healthy right? Not this salad! I chose to have mine topped with roast pork and crackling even though there were healthier toppings available on the menu (chicken, etc). Cause honestly, who can deny themselves a healthy serve of pork crackling? It was deliciously sinful – mouthfuls of fresh noodles, herbs and salad leaves mixed with a massive serving of tender roast pork and crispy crackling. I could definitely go another round!
Just for good measure, we ordered a dessert to share – the Banh Ran which we thought would come out at simple red bean doughnuts. To our surprise, it comes out served with two scoops of electric pink ice-cream! The flavour in the ice-cream was actually quite mild and I couldn’t quite tell what it was flavoured with. This just meant though, that it worked well as a simple textural backdrop to the moreish flavour-enhanced sesame coated chewy doughnuts. Simply delicious!
Mama’s Buoi entertained a steady stream of customers on the day that we were there – with groups ranging from local office workers like us, to local ladies who lunch, to younger students making the most of the uni break. Not a table was left empty. It’s set to become a local favourite, and for good reason too!
I’ll definitely be back the next time I’m looking for a classic Vietnamese noodle salad with a little bit of a modern twist, especially if it means that I get to catch up one-on-one with a lovely new colleague!