Richmond is fast becoming my second home. I’m there at least once a week for a meal and now that I’m getting physio done in the very same suburb there are even more trips to Richmond! This post involves some cheap quick Asian eats along Victoria Street.
Fina’s Vegetarian Café
268 Victoria Street
+61 3 9428 6765
Goth Mum and I were waaaaay overdue for a catch up. She’s vegan and had her bub, Mr. Finch, in tow that day. That narrowed our dining options to a handful and Fina’s was a perfect choice. We were warmly welcomed, pram and all, and a baby chair was even whipped out for Mr. Finch to sit in comfortably.
Fina’s offers a vegetarian take on traditional Vietnamese fare. The menu can be adjusted to suit certain needs, including vegan, gluten-free and even the option to omit garlic and onion. We both felt noodley that afternoon, and Goth Mum had vermicelli with bamboo while I chose a spicy bun. Mr. Finch munched away on Goth Mum’s homemade banana bread and entertained himself with a dinosaur while the adults slurped and chatted away.
The soups were cleansing with a clean sweet taste. No MSG is added, instead the lovely ingredients gave plenty of flavour to the dishes. My noodle soup was essentially vegetarian bun bo hue. It came with the appropriate julienned purple cabbage and mint and plenty of delicious meaty soy products such as tofu, beancurd sheets and soy meatloaf which was really tasty. Goth’s Mum’s dish had fresh and marinated bamboo, crispy mock duck and mushrooms. I didn’t sample Goth Mum’s choice but she really liked it.
I’ve always wanted to try Fina but every time I’m at Victoria Street, the lure and proximity of I Love Pho 264 beckons and sways me away. I’m glad I finally stepped foot into Fina’s. The food is great, the staff are extremely pleasant and it provides a great option for those wanting a healthier, lighter, meat-free version of traditional Vietnamese food.
2 days later, The Angmoh and I found ourselves back on Victoria Street. This time, we were there for dinner. The Angmoh used to frequent Xiao Ting Box for his work lunch but hadn’t in a while. I tagged along, hoping for some comforting Shanghainese cuisine.
It was quiet that Saturday evening. The yolk-yellow walls are decorated with Chinese paintings on 1 side and pictures of the chef’s specials on the opposite. Complimentary prawn crackers were set down as soon as we were seated. We crunched away as we looked over the menu and decided to get a rice dish for The Angmoh, a noodle dish for myself and a serve of dumplings to share.
The Angmoh’s gung pao chicken on rice was thoroughly enjoyed. It tasted the same as he last remembered and was glad to have relived the memory. My dandan noodles, on the other hand, were a let down. The noodles lacked bounce and bite and the sauce was a sad sweetened mess of gluggy mince meat. The dumplings were also a far cry from “Melbourne’s Best Dumplings”, which was a bold claim made in the menu. The skins were hard and thick and the filling could be more exciting.
I was thoroughly disappointed with my dinner at Xiao Ting Box. The Angmoh’s dish was the only saving grace. We found out that there had been a change of management slightly over a year ago and the food was much better prior to that. I’ll be sticking to Noodle Kingdom or Shanghai Street Dumplings in the futur