I arrived first and the welcome was friendly and I took a seat up at the bar. There was one other person there so it was a pretty quiet vibe. Whilst we were there a couple of other diners came in but it's still pretty much a slow crowd. The menu was explained to us with some sparky personality and passion and we both went with the banh canh cua which are rice drop noodles in a crab broth with soft shell crab, quail egg and a prawn a $15.90. We also went with the Eggplant Balado; grilled eggplant with balado sambal, an Indonesian chilli sauce.
The food didn't take too long to arrive. The eggplant looked pretty small for the $9 or $10 charged. Three thin slices making it at least $3 a slice, I can get a sushi roll for $3! The eggplant was a bit chewy. I like it when the eggplant goes mushy and creamy whereas this was still pretty cardboardy. The coriander and chives were nice enough but not good enough to rescue this dish.
The noodles come in a deep, stone bowl that looks chic. It's deceptively deep and there are a lot more noodles in there than you first think so it's better value for money than the eggplant was.
Surprisingly the crab broth is actually that almost gelatinous, thick kind of soup like chicken and sweetcorn soup from a Chinese takeaway or restaurant made with cornflour. I don't mind that kind of soup but I know it's not for everyone and coupled with slippery thick rice drop noodles it gets kind of thick and gloopy. The flavours are pretty good though and the fried soft shell crab is tasty and manages to stay reasonably crispy. It's a pretty carb heavy dish though so it is very filling and isn't the light Vietnamese style noodle dish you might expect.
Although it wasn't quite what I had in mind, I did enjoy it enough to perhaps visit again and try something else. Maybe something less thick and heavy next time. Initial service was friendly but water glasses weren't topped up regularly and wait staff stayed behind the bar rather than working the floor. I guess perhaps it was because the restaurant was pretty empty. I think there's some fine tuning needed but all in all for somewhere new it was a decent start. Onwards and upwards Homi!