Recently we found ourselves at Virginia at around lunchtime and were looking for somewhere to grab a bite. We had been, once , to the Virginia Nursery where they have a big meal operation, but to be honest, the whole queue up for cafeteria food thing wasn’t what we wanted.
Instead we wandered into the Woolworths Shopping Centre looking for maybe a sandwich shop and sure enough the “Classic Cafe” is there, wih all the pies, pasties, BLT’s and soft drinks you could ask for.
But across the aisle is a little Vietnamese Restaurant – the Vietral.
It’s plain and clean and hardly attention grabbing, but stop and think for a moment.
If there’s one thing Virginia has plenty of, it’s market gardens. And if there’s one thing market gardens have it’s owners and workers from a Vietnamese background.
So here’s a restaurant owned by Vietnamese people, cooking Vietnamese food for Vietnamese people. That adds up to pretty hardcore Vietnamese food.
The menu, which was above the counter, fish and chip shop style, was in Vietnamese with a separate English Menu next to it. We assumed that the English Menu and the Vietnamese menu were the same, but maybe not. The English menu had, it seems been translated from the Vietnamese by someone who perhaps spoke Vietnamese better than English and contained items like “Broken Rice with Steamed Meat Cake” and “Beef in Sinewy Soup”.
Mt wife ordered “Spicy Chicken with Chilli and Lemongrass”. I ordered “Rice vermicelli with Beef” and my daughter ordered “Chicken with Vegetables”
I was told that “we don’t have beef, we only have Pork Chop”, which was fine by me and then, when my daughter’s Chicken and vegetables arrived it was beef and vegetables.
The two chicken dishes – well, one chicken, one beef – arrived with a mountain of meat and vegetables stir fried and served with rice and a bowl of clear soup with, I think, spring onions and garlic chives. My Pork chop with rice noodles came with a vast quantity of grated carrot, mint, cucumber, peanuts and other goodies, buried under a pile of cold rice noodles with a slices of crispy pork chop, complete with bone to chew on and a bowl of sweet, sour and sticky sauce which, I gather could be poured over the lot as a sort of salad dressing. It was, I have to say, delicious.
My daughter pronounced her chicken that was really beef to be “sensational” and my wife said that her chicken was delicious, but she admitted defeat about half way through because it was so chilli hot that her teeth had gone numb.
The thing is, for all its quirkiness. the Vietral gave us delicious food and plenty of it at a ridiculous price. Rice, enough food for two people and a bowl of soup for about $12. Add a bottle of iced tea and there’s a delicious lunch for $15.
We asked and were told that it opens six days a week at about seven in the morning for breakfast and closes at about three or four in the afternoon after lunch. They do takeaway, but no dinner service. I paid cash and didn’t see an EFTPOS machine.