Like most Melbourians, I discovered Vietnamese food in the small family-run restaurants of Victoria Street. Known as Little Saigon, it is one of the city’s most popular cheap eat destinations. Crowded and vibrant, a brash mixing of identities and cultures, it’s where you’ll find some of the best and authentic Asian food in Melbourne.
Melbourne is a city celebrated for its food and this street typifies our attitude to it, who we are as a people and how we like to eat. Ours is a city of migrants – over 160 ethnicities, and our food at its best is a wondrous fusion of these cuisines.
What you experience in Victoria Street is very much the migrant experience – that cultural nostalgia and longing for the place of one’s birth and the reality of one’s new home. You see it everywhere from the imported goods, the older women wearing their Nón Lá (traditional palm-leaf conical hats), to the language spoken in the restaurants and on the street – Vietnamese. During the day, grandparents do the daily shop with grandchildren in hand and in the family-run restaurants, the older women sit and banter while making rice-paper rolls. At night, it is a food destination especially between Lennox and Church Streets, where the street is a buzz with crowds, looking at menus, following the recommendations of the city’s food reviewers and food guides.
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