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Home » Foostcray, Melbourne's Hotspots under $20 series, Richmond, Vietnamese

Public Holiday means time for Vietnamese delicacies: Thanh Ha 2 and Nhu Lan Bakery

Submitted by on November 3, 2009 – 6:04 pm13 Comments

Peanut butter and jelly. Black rims on a white car. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.  None of these combinations seemed like they would taste. The point.. please eat your Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls with the lettuce!

WITH every public holiday, it is tradition that my friends and I head to either Victoria Street in Richmond or Footscray for some Vietnamese spring rolls, Pho and mixed ham rolls. Also the fact that Asian stores and restaurants are the only ones that are trading.


Boys being boys, we thought we could spice up this old tradition and go to both locations. We had nothing else to do apart from rubbing in this wondrous day off to our Sydney peeps anyways. Why?! The girls asked. This is where I used my cat attack card.

So I proceeded to tell them that Creamy’s nails hadn’t been cut lately and are pretty sharp indeed. So should I happen to ‘accidentally’ rowdy her up towards their pair of Jimmy Choo shoes… Without hesitation, the girls in the group magically changed their minds as they clung onto their shoes like a child to his blanket – the fellas however, were giving me the thumbs up. What sort of persuasion power would I have had I owned a dog?! Just imagine the possibilities…

Stop #1: Thanh Ha 2

Details: 120 Victoria St Richmond VIC 3121 Phone: 03 9421 6219

Surroundings: Casual, room length mirror highlighting specials on offer reflecting back the odd number of patrons using their toothpicks in full view. Eeew!

Entrées: Pork Fried Spring Rolls: Generously filled, the juicy minced pork filling was full of flavor complimented by the fresh lettuce and tangy dipping sauce. The sauce was especially good with the evidence of fresh garlic, the right amount of sweetness and wasn’t not to fiery with the chili. Oh, and although hesitant at first, my friends are now adding the leaves. About time I say.


DSC00228Use that lettuce leaf!

Prawn Rice Paper Rolls: Large in size filled with the biggest possible prawns that can possibly fit inside without tearing the rice paper, mint, coriander and vermicelli noodles. Don’t you love that!?  I tend to mix the sauces from the fried and rice paper spring rolls.


I tried making these once, but was a little to eager with my King Prawns…lesson learned. Wanna have a go? Check out the below video.

Mains: Steamed rice paper with prawn, pork slices, mung bean pie with bean shoots, cucumber and mint served with a chili compote. If not, just use the handy jar available on each table.  This was superb. The point of the dish is to combine all the ingredients as you experiment your way through the various elements and different textures-  from the encased mung bean crunch to the slippery rice paper and the dense pork slices. I suggest cutting up the pork slices for the ease of your devourement.


The rice paper rolls are silky and soft to the tongue. It’s actually quite enjoyable eating this dish as you try and hold it all together with the chopsticks! My skills need sharpening. The chili surrounds the crisp broken mung bean pie concluding with the fresh neutralising salad complimented by the sweet and tangy fish sauce dressing. This is the point where I start to blow my nose from all the spices then hopping back in to continue the fight.

DSC00155The mash up.

Dessert: Avocado Smoothie. A little too thick as I struggled to draw enough breath to sip. But was happily scooped up by the humble spoon who is always there to help you out- especially in the middle of the night as you go for the ice-cream tub.


Bring a date here? I’d consider this a place to get together with friends as opposed to a date. The kids running around and noisy crowds can dampen the romantic outing.

Night out with friends here? For sure.

Service: Courteous and friendly.

$$$: 36

Food Rehab Verdict: Sent me to food rehab (book this place now! Wowzer) – Greenlight

Thanh Ha on Urbanspoon

Stop #2: Nhu Lan Bakery

Details: 116 Hopkins St Footscray, VIC 3011 Phone: (03) 9689 7296

Surroundings: This place gets packed as an ants nest. I’m surprised they don’t pre-prepare all the rolls but am glad they don’t.


Made fresh in front of your beady eyes, you will need to make your decision on ingredients quick snappy. Like the soup nazi on Seinfeld, don’t waste their time ‘ooohing and aaahing.’   Stand at the back of the line and select your ingredients or just order the stock standard from the menu.


When my friends and I are craving for this crunchy meat filled goodness, it only takes 1 SMS with the subject line ‘viet roll?” to get us all excited speeding all the way to Footscray. Usually occurs on a lazy Sunday.


Mains: Mixed Ham Roll

Over the last 15 years, I’ve just about tried out all the Viet Rolls on Victoria St, Springvale and Footscray and by far, Nhu Lan takes the crown. It could be the sinful mouth watering butter, the fragrant pork pate, the pickled carrot blended with the fresh coriander or the fact that each time I’ve had it; the rolls have just popped out of the oven.


With the bread still warm, this is eaten on the street as we walk around the shopping strip, laughing at each other as bread crumbs litter the floors of our city. Such grotts I tell you. Oh well, the birds will eat it? Conscious is clear. Right?

Bring a date here? Take it…and go.

Day out with friends here? Hmmm, as above.

Service: Friendly but don’t waste their time.

$$$: 3.50. Cheap Eats!

Food Rehab Verdict: Sent me to food rehab (book this place now! Wowzer) – Greenlight

Nhu Lan on Urbanspoon

Feeling rather lazy to cook, what do you eat on a public holiday?

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  • katie pie says:

    I’ve never seen that Steamed rice paper dish before. I always seem to stick with the norm like broken rice!! hehe It looks beautiful. I’ll show this to hubby for our next visit to vic st.


  • Oooh those rice paper rolls look good – I’m always on the lookout for new places on Victoria Street. Once I found THE place for pho (Laughing Cow, Laughing Chicken) I was too scared to try any other place.

    Jetsetting Joyce
    .-= Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT)´s last blog ..HOT: Moon, Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon St, Carlton =-.

    • Adrian says:

      Hey Katie pie- yes, please try it out. You’ll never know…I bet this dish will become your new ‘usual’. :)

      Hey Mel- The rice paper rolls were great. I know what you mean though, once you’ve found your ‘golden’ Pho joint, you don’t want to stray!

      Hey April- They’re so good huh. I think the fact that there are quite a few elements to the dish not too mention the heap of chili paste and fresh salad. Love it during Summer.
      Saigon Bakery- this place is also my usual spot for viet rolls when in the area. But you just can’t go past the pate and deadly butter at Nhu Lan.

      Hey Leona- YES!!! I usually go for 2 standard mix ham rolls but one with meatballs as well. I don’t care if there’s an extra charge. How funny! I think our taste buds may be related apart from your dislike to cheese hehe Yeah for sure, I’m down. Cabramatta sounds good. Like Footscray or Springvale- Melbourne’s mini Vietnam LOL

  • Rilsta says:

    Thanh Ha 2 is one of my favourite places on Vic St and my favourite dish is the steamed rice rolls! Will have to try out Nhu Lan for the Vietnamese rolls though – I normally go to Saigon Bakery!
    .-= Rilsta´s last blog ..Session with Luke Nguyen at Books for Cooks, Fitzroy =-.

  • Leona says:

    mMmm Pork roll! I loveee pork roll. had it for lunch the other day sometimes i get the ones with nem nuong meat balls.

    One day when your up in sydney will have to take you to Cabramatta (mini vietnam) for a viet feast.
    .-= Leona´s last blog ..Waterfront =-.

  • Yes, when will people learn the lettuce is meant to be used!
    Craving Vietnamese food more than ever now!!
    .-= Iron Chef Shellie´s last blog ..Red Curry with Meatballs =-.

  • Ellie says:

    Great food on public holiday! What a life!! Jealous Melbourne has so much good food!

  • Karen says:

    Yummo! I love these viet rolls. My recently discover a new gem hidden in Prahran Market. This viet cart (Bunme I think the name is) sells rice paper roll and Bahn Mi. For a dollar more, I get generous amount of corrianders, pickled carrots is crunchy and so fresh! I asked the lady who runs the stall, she makes her own pate using chicken liver, much smoother and richer in texture as she claims. I reckon it goes so well with the lots. GOtta try the lemongrass chicken bahn mi!

  • Adrian says:

    Hey Karen- Prahran Market? Thanks for the tip. Oh, it’s all about the pate I think. I’m looking forward to tasting this lemongrass chicken variety. You’re making me hungry!

  • brittany says:

    Nhu Lan definitely has the best egg butter and pate…
    we sometimes just buy the butter and pate in the containers from the fridge and grab a bag of mini rolls and spend the rest of the afternoon slathering it on…..
    Thanh Ha 2 is another fave of mine! Their specialty is the banh cot(?) which are little deep-fried rice flour cup(shaped) gems, topped with a shrimp. You can eat them on their own dipped in some fish sauce, but i like to ask for a plate of salad to wrap them in.

    great blog by the way! :)

    • Adrian says:

      Hey Brittany- Nhu lan in Footscray has been the most consistent of them all when it comes to Banh Mi. Yes, I agree that the butter and pate keeps me coning back for more!

      Big props to you on getting some take home butter and pate LOL Have you tried lathering it up on their finger bread sticks? Pop it in the oven and you have heaven.

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