Wednesday, August 3, 2011


74-76 Nicholson Street
Footscray, 3011

Sen has replaced the old Halong Bay on the corner of Droop, Barkly, Nicholson and Hopkins Streets, next door to the old Royal Hotel. With windows on three sides it is easy to watch the world and the trams go by.

Inside the décor is more modern and stylish than before, part of a trend moving through Footscray's Vietnamese restaurants.

Unusually and unexpectedly but most welcome was the arrival of some prawn crackers, especially after the ride home from the city... unfortunately they led to an explosion of red/orange chilli sauceover the table and me, but that was easily mopped up.

We perused the large menu, which contained the expected standards as well as some more unusual items.

The first entrée to arrive was the rice paper rolls with duck. These were smaller than some, but were fresh and the duck certainly made them stand out from the crowd.

We also went for the Quail which conveniently had been chopped in two. It has certainly been a while since I've had quail, and I wasn't disappointed. The skin was crispy, yet the meat was still moist and flavoursome.

I had a large bowl of the glutinous rice noodles (Bánh canh?) with seafood and pork soup, the first time I'd come across this type of udon like noodle in vietnamese cuisine. The broth was had a strong fish flavour, almost like a French seafood soup, there were some fish balls,fatty pork slices and a prawn. I enjoyed the change from the usual pho.

The chicken pho also came in a huge bowl and with the usual accompaniments of herbs and bean shoots. There was plenty of nice chicken, but apparently the broth was a bit bland.

The service was efficient and reasonably friendly. The bill cane to $32, the entrées being especially good value. I think we may go back to explore more of that large menu.

Update: 18/12/2011
We were back again recently, and went for the same entrées but also tried the mixed seafood and tofu hotpot, which was stacked with prawns, scallops, fish, squid, deep fried puffy tofu, slices of fish cake, baby corn, mushroom, carrots and cabbage! Everything was well cooked and sauce didn't overpower the flavours of the ingredients.

The Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce had plenty of garlic, and the straightforward dish was executed well.

The place was packed on the Saturday night, with patrons from a diverse range of backgrounds, it was pretty loud, especially when the birthday banana 'cake' emerged and the cheesy version of happy birthday was cranked out! Everyone seemed to be having a good time though.

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