Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FAST FEWD @ Miss Chu

Yalei and I braved the 9 to 5ers when we popped into Miss Chu for lunch a couple of weeks ago. The competition for table space, counter space, seats, lunch bags and attention from wait staff come 1pm is pretty damn fierce. For this reason, if you’re the more on timid the side, maybe hold back a couple of hours and try for dinner. This place is on high rotation, so you have to be quick.

But I’m not saying it’s not worth it. It is. I’ve been to Miss Chu’s a few times now, and it’s always in the back of my head when I want a simple meal in the CBD with minimal fuss. Sure, it’s always chaotic, and you’ve got to be quick on your feet to grab a table, but I am, so I feel like this restaurant and I are a good match.

Always a fan of house-special drinks, Yalei ordered the frozen coconut-mint drink, which is an icy concoction that you can also order with vokda. She got a virgin one, as above ($6). She also ordered the duck pancake ($3) which was a bit smaller then anticipated, but apparently tasted amazing. We shared the prawn and crab net spring rolls ($6) which are incredibly light and so easy to eat quickly. Instead of using thicker Chinese style pastry, Miss Chu’s thing is to use rice paper, so the skin is crispy and light with a fresh filling, without that really greasy feeling you get with most spring rolls. There is none of that miscellaneous green, "vegetable" stuff in there either. I ordered the seared atlantic salmon, which came with rice ($13) and light greens on the side. I always come back to this dish, because they hit you with a decent amount of salmon, and the vegetables are always fresh and cooked well. I also got a raspberry and apple juice ($3.5)

Prawn & Crab Net Spring Rolls 

I really like Miss Chu, and it’s the general vibe and the affordable, satisfying food that keeps me going back. There are a lot of good things about this place. To begin with, it’s all about fair trade and organic ingredients, and no MSG. I think it’s great the the owner tributes her Vietnamese-Laotian heritage by using her Australian visa photo from her childhood as the icon of the restaurant. They also have free WiFi (should you have enough table space to open a laptop) and deliver take-away orders within 1 km of the restaurant, which I should totally jump on now that I spend three quatres of my life in the CBD.

It's interesting to note that this place is pretty white-washed, despite the owner being of the same origin, and each time I’ve visited, is providing non-offensive Vietnamese fair to a large majority of white, young profs in a contemporary setting.

The only downside is that the service is a bit iffy, and the waitstaff have a tenancy to throw your meal across your table at you, Shanghai-Dumpling-style. Rush times are kind of a bun fight where you have to look out for yourself, because the wait staff are too busy to be escorting you anywhere. But you can tell that this is more under staffing and a lack of space and even perhaps a lack of commitment to customer interaction that makes the service a bit dicey.

The Seared Atlantic Salmon with rice and greens


297 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

11am- 10pm daily 

Good for: Easy, fast and informal dining with groups of up to about 4 people. Would be perfect to visit before a gig or a show, but probably get in before peak hour to avoid a wait.
Vegetarians: Have lots of options, as do the health conscious.
Seats: Try to get a table, although you may have to share with another group. The counters are a good idea to save space on the restaurant floor, but sitting there isn't ideal, especially if you're there to eat with other people.
Wait time: It was about 5 minutes before we spotted a table and nabbed it.
Food waiting time: Around 7 minutes- very quick.
Cost: Good value, and one of the cheaper lunch or dinner options I've encountered in Melbourne. My share of the spring rolls, the salmon and the drink clocked in just under budget at $19.50.


Miss Chu on Urbanspoon

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