Back to Springvale on (full) day 2 of our visit

The dilemma of coming back to our home bases (San Francisco and Melbourne) is always the same: given the limited amount of time we visit in both cities, how do we balance going back to our old favorite places to eat (such as Lamb on Chapel. Phuoc Thanh/Nhu Lan, Pho Hung Vuong, and Shandong Mama) with new places that we’ve spent pretty much all year learning and reading about? Springvale, a predominantly Vietnamese neighborhood in Melbourne, is one of the very first neighborhoods that Chris took me to 11 years ago when I first visited, so it always has a special place in my heart. When I first came to Melbourne, I still remember being completely shocked that there was not just one, not two, but THREE major neighborhoods of the city (Springvale, Richmond, and Footscray) that were considered Vietnamese towns! My mind was completely blown.

A few places in Springvale stand out for us: Pho Hung Vuong, which has since branched out to multiple locations in the Melbourne area and seemingly always has a queue of hungry slurpy eaters. You know it’s going to be delicious not just because of the queue, but also since for food, they literally just have two options: pho bo or pho ga (beef vs. chicken pho) and different variations of both (thigh vs. breast, brisket, tendon, fatty brisket, etc.) ; Bun Bun Bakery, the leader in banh mi that we were told about from the owner of HS Cakes, which is also in Springvale and the same place we ordered Kaia’s durian cake from last year; Bun Bo Hue Nam Giao, which likely has the best bun bo hue I’ve ever tasted, aside from the one we had at a Vietnamese restaurant in St. Louis, MO (of all places!!). And if that were not enough, there are several big markets/shopping centers that are basically free-for-alls when it comes to endless fresh produce, baked goods, Vietnamese snacks and desserts. It’s always overwhelming going there and deciding which snacks, if any, to pick up. Plus, with parking always being competitive, limited, and a bit pricey, we don’t have endless hours to just roam and taste everything.

Today, we went back to Bun Bun Bakery to get their mixed ham banh mi (just as delicious and perfect as we remembered); sat at Pho Hung Vuong (OMG, NO WAIT!) and shared a medium sized bowl of pho bo (rare beef, brisket, and fatty brisket), a very beany soy milk and an iced Vietnamese coffee; popped into the market and got some ube and cherries for Pookster, while also getting a very delicious coconut bao (gai mei bao) and pate chaud, both yummy. It’s hard to go wrong with food here, but as per usual, endless options always existed.

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