It is well-known knowledge that to get the best Vietnamese meals, one has to venture to the suburbs. Popular areas include Western suburbs such as Footscray and in this case, the South-Eastern suburb of Springvale.
Besides my favourite pho place, Pho Hung Vuong, another popular Springvale restaurant, Hoa Tran, seems to be one of the busiest Asian restaurants I've ever seen.
They have two storeys for dining and there are often people waiting outside for a table. This demonstrates the nature of the place - you go in, order, your food comes out super quickly then you feel guilty and leave immediately for the next people.
But I did see some people who took advantage of the BYO and were leisurely enjoying their food and wine.
Winter often makes you feel like soup thus I ordered the bun bo hue or Hue style spicy beef noodle soup. The dishes really come out only about five minutes after you order.
The soup was good but not as spicy as I would have liked. I think I still prefer the bun bo hue at Song Huong in St Albans by comparison. But without taking the spiciness into account, the soup was fairly tasty.
I think it's possible that they have decreased the spice factor for the Western crowd who also seem quite drawn to the restaurant and its popularity.
Meanwhile, my friend ordered the bun thit nuong or vermicelli noodles with grilled pork. This came piled up in a bowl. I feel I often see this in slightly shorter/smaller bowls, even at other Asian restaurants, so it was a very generous serve.
The only issue is that Vietnamese people often like to drown their noodles with a sweet chilli fish sauce or nuoc mam. However you only get a small side dish of the sauce, which is highly disproportionate for a Vietnamese person. Surprising, as most of them are Vietnamese.
Bun thit nuong or vermicelli noodles with grilled pork
But of course they were happy to provide extra servings of the sauce. It's a great pro that they are quick to serve, as the communication between staff and swiftness in which the extra sauce was served was quite impressive.
Something else I didn't capture was the Vietnamese iced coffee. We asked for it in a takeaway cup and the cup was similar to a bubble tea cup. The iced coffee was great, not overwhelmingly strong and mixed enough to make you down it eagerly.
Map of Hoa Tran's hidden location
You'll find Hoa Tran in a little alleyway behind the lively, main streets of Springvale. They are always busy but wait times won't be too long, so head down if you're after a large, hearty Vietnamese meal. Don't forget to check out their enormous menu here.