When I first moved out of home, it was as the result of a big fight with my parents who didn’t approve of my boyfriend at the time. Of course with hindsight I can see that their objections were totally correct, and shudder to think of my youthful foolishness in getting mixed up with that boyfriend to begin with. “Directionless loser” is the phrase that springs to mind. Everyone has relationships they regret right?
Anyway, at that point I moved in a close friend who was renting a house in Springvale and had a spare bedroom. The situation worked out really well – my rent was cheap, my friend subsidised my weekly grocery shop with freebies as he worked at the produce markets, and it was extremely close to the delicious family-run Vietnamese restaurants of Springvale Central.
Since the time of my share-housing in the area, Springvale’s gone through a bit of a renovation blitz, with the development of a new centre with a lot of small eateries and speciality shops. One of those new restaurants is Hoang Yen, a Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant that gives the stalwart Hoa Tran a run for its money with a steady flow of customers.
I visited Hoang Yen with my dad on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch, and we end up waiting a few minutes for a table even considering the late hour.
I ordered a three colour drink, my drink of choice whenever I’m in a Vietnamese restaurant. The sweet coconut milk and different textures of the three colours (green jelly, red bean and mung bean paste) always combine well. I found Hoang Yen’s version very sweet, with a larger than usual ratio of coconut milk to ingredients.
Dad ordered a beef pho, his go-to dish whenever he’s in a Vietnamese restaurant. He reported it as being tasty in its own right, but not as good as the beef pho from his favourite Pho Hung Vuong 2. “It’s not bad”, he said, “especially considering they don’t specialise in pho here”.
I ordered a smaller entree-sized dish, as I know that a three colour drink always fills me up. The broth of the wonton soup is wonderfully clear and tasty, without the cloying mouthfeel that you can sometimes get with soup broths. The wontons were much larger than I expect as well, and were well-stuffed with large chunks of both prawn and pork. At only $5 for a small bowl of soup with real depth of flavour and five large wonton, it’s well worth the price.
Dad and I also shared the rice paper rolls as a healthy option. Unlike other local restaurants that cut corners and save on time, these rice paper rolls have clearly been freshly made upon order, rather than made earlier and then stored in the fridge. The healthy slice of pork and three prawns in each roll also make this a really worthwhile dish. The only point of improvement I think would be to substitute out some of the vermicelli noodles in order to put more vegetables in – more cucumber and lettuce would have made a big difference.
Overall, I really rate Hoang Yen as a cheap dining option in Springvale. You’re guaranteed fresh produce and generous servings at a really reasonable price.