Critique is an art form that requires a light touch, with a splash of irony and good humour to soften the blows.
Published March 9th 2014
Vietnamese Home-Style Hospitality in Broadbeach
Authentic Vietnamese cuisine is rare in Queensland, so taking the time to dine at New O-Me-Ly could be the best decision you make all year. The service is warm, friendly and helpful. The food is fresh, fragrant and filling. Did I mention it is also incredibly cheap?
Husband-and-wife-team Linda and Long Lin have operated this small family business in Broadbeach for 11 years. Against all odds, this little business remains steadily busy while so many around the corner in Surf Parade are often empty. With a big smile, Linda will tell you that O-Me-Ly means 'happiness' and is a place to forget all your worries. To me, if always feels like I am being invited to share a home-cooked meal, and in a way that's true.
I have eaten here many times, and have always had a good experience, but I seldom refer to the menu. They don't have many photos of their dishes, so I tend to look around at other tables and order something that looks good. If you still can't decide, ask the friendly staff. They all speak English and are happy to help. After all, they want you to be happy too.
I always find that one dish is more than enough when I eat here, but this time I wanted to review two dishes so I ordered both a starter and a main. Linda warned me that it was a lot of food, but I ordered them anyway. She said I could take some home if it was too much for me, and that was good advice.
I ordered a pot of Jasmine leaf tea ($1.50) and started with the Summer Roll ($6.90) which is described as 'rice paper with prawn and pork, vermicelli and mint'. The rice paper rolls were soft, fat parcels with a light summery filling, as they should be. Devoid of any artificial flavours, they seemed a little bland at first, but the thick satay-like dipping sauce was a perfect accompaniment. This dish is just the right size for a light lunch, or to share with others as an entree.
For the main dish I followed the recommendation of another diner and ordered the Crispy Chicken Egg Noodle Soup ($11.90) which is described as 'deep-fried boneless chicken with egg noodle soup'.
When it came out, I said to the waiter, "Ah, no, I didn't order all this", but he just smiled and nodded.
Being a fan of Pho, I had expected a noodle soup with a few slivers of chicken meat on top. Instead, I was presented with a big bowl full of noodle soup and another plate carrying a thick chunk of crispy-skinned chicken. I soon realised that all the extra bits are meant to go into the noodle soup, and once I tasted the chicken there was no stopping me.
The soup broth was a fragrant and light master stock ladled over a tangled web of tender egg noodles, with floating Asian greens. Thin petals of what appeared to be lightly-fried slivers red scallions added even further dimension, and may be responsible for the hint of sweetness in the soup. The addition of the lime juice, torn mint leaves, chilli sauce and beansprouts completed the full range of flavours. However, I would have liked a little fresh red chilli and fish sauce to add as well.
The crispy-skinned chicken pieces barely made it into the soup, as they were just too succulent on their own. Perfection. When I asked Linda how it was cooked, she said it was a secret recipe. Her only hint was that it took a very long time and many types of cooking. I'm guessing it's thrice-cooked chicken.
Someone at a nearby table had ordered the Crispy Noodle with Chicken ($16.90) from the dinner menu, and when I heard the happy chatter I felt compelled to take a peek. Again, such a simple understated description of 'crispy noodles topped with chicken and vegetables' does not do justice to the dish. It looked so fresh and inviting, glistening with a promise of deliciousness. Definitely what I will be trying next time I come in.
New O-Me-Ly is open most days for a late lunch or early dinner, and includes a takeaway service. There are different menus for lunch and dinner, but I have seen people ordering favourites from the dinner menu at lunchtime, so it appears quite flexible. The takeaway menu is on the window, and it seems to have all the same dishes. BYO.
The inside seating area is a welcoming space, but you can also choose to sit outside under wide umbrellas. I have never had to wait for a table, but best to book ahead if wanting to accommodate more than four people in a group. On my last visit they successfully accommodated a group of 14 regulars in the outdoor area, without compromising service to other diners.
There is angle parking right out front, and I'm usually lucky enough to get a park within a few minutes. The 750 bus (SeaWorld to Mudgeeraba) stops at the northern side of the Surf Pde roundabout, and that's less than a one minute walk. Other buses run along the Gold Coast Highway, and that only a block away. From June 2014, it should also be serviced by the light rail.