When it comes to the CBD, it's always easy to get stuck in old habits, especially for lunch when you want something good, affordable and fairly prompt. Hardware Societe...Trunk Diner...Kenzan GPO....etc. etc.
But when I suggested to do lunch with Mini (who's actually 6 foot tall, go figure) and David, I quickly remembered that Miss Chu had recently opened, and whilst I'm not usually so keen for Asian joints, unless they are Japanese (I know total fail Asian over here), but I'm a sucker for something new and a little bit trendy. No I swear I'm not a hipster.
Miss Chu is an import from Sydney, well known for their rice paper rolls made with fresh, healthy ingredients and surprisingly, no MSG. Wait. No MSG? Is this place really Asian?
This day we chose to go, ended up being quite wet (as Melbourne does in April). When Mini and I arrived the place was absolutely bustling, people lining outside to order before retreating inside for their table. It looked like the office workers on Exhibition street were really lapping up the fairly reasonably priced menu, hot pho and the quick and informal service.
They keep things simple in the small, squishy store, everyone sits on stools and stoops over low tables, the light shades are repurposed Chinese bowls and you can hear the hiss and sizzle coming out of the kitchen.
Service is chilled out as well, tick a couple of boxes on the paper, line up at the counter at the front, hand it in, get back to your seat and get served. Simple as that.
Despite it being cold and wet outside, some of the drinks sounded so good that I just had to have one. And who doesn't love a little cheery bright red umbrella to brighten their day?
I can't remember exactly what the drink is called, but it's made with young coconut juice (which is supposedly fabulous for your health), mint, lots of ice...and something. My memory fails me. But it was lovely and cold, refreshing and bright. Definitely a great palette cleanser. Potentially great for a date if you want to keep your breath fresh. Hee hee!
We ordered two different types of dumplings to share, a vegetable dumpling and the shanghai pork dumpling. Both were lovely and warm, but not overly memorable, I found the skin a little thick for my tastes.
I decided to try the tiger prawn and green mango Vietnamese rice paper roll. It came in a plastic pack, so assumedly the rolls are probably made on the day, but not made fresh. It was still nice though, without the sauces it was a little bland, but all the ingredients seemed quite fresh, the rice paper itself was not tough and chewy at all like I've come across before and easy to bite through. All in all, pretty good and not badly priced at $6 for two rolls, at least they give you some decent sized prawns and don't just fill it all up with noodles!
Both the boys decided to try the wagyu beef pho, at $13, I was surprised they could even offer wagyu (but assume it's not the top grade obviously!). The beef slices were quite tender though, and tasty. The soup was quite flavoursome and whilst David, who is Vietnamese so is very well versed in the ways of Pho, said it wasn't very authentic pho, and did not appreciated the pre cut chillis as he doesn't have a high tolerance of them, but otherwise s enjoyed the dish. Although he couldn't finish it I think as he did find it too spicy!
I don't think I mind Miss Chu for the rice paper rolls, as I've never liked what I can get on Swanston St, but I probably won't return for the dumplings or the pho. It does have a nice buzz though and the service and food delivery is pretty efficient. So if you work up this end of town, it's certainly not a bad option for lunch.
Mini drew it. Don't ask me.