Welcome to the very first entry in a new segment here at Footscray Life – Signature Dishes of Footscray. Lauren is going to be letting you all in on some of the signature offerings from Footscray’s restaurants (some of which aren’t even on the menu) so read on, take notes and enjoy. Now onto Lauren Wambach, best known as The Footscray Food Blogger.
Sen’s tagline is “The Hidden Taste” and indeed, this restaurant’s signature dish is somewhat of a secret. It may not be on the menu, but customers hike from St Albans and even Frankston for this authentic northern Vietnamese dish. It’s a tangy fish and rice vermicelli soup called bún cá, and it deserves to shine.
Sen is the baby of husband and wife Nguyen Le and Yen Nguyen and will be two years old in June. Nguyen was the chef at Ha Long, this restaurant’s previous incarnation, and he and Yen have created a fresh, modern look for this striking corner location.
Nguyen has worked as a chef since 1990 when he first came to Australia. He knows his way around a wok but most of all he genuinely loves to cook. His wife Yen was one of the faces of the Rickshaw Run, Footscray’s signature Food and Wine Festival event, teaching visitors how to fold and twirl their own rice paper rolls.
Sen may do a mean salt-and-pepper squid, but seek out its hidden gem: Bún cá. This is a refreshing rice vermicelli noodle soup featuring fried rockling fillets and properly spongy, house-made fish cakes redolent with dill. This heady, intoxicating herb is one of the hallmarks of northern Vietnamese cuisine.
An interesting addition is a traditional Vietnamese vegetable, bạc hà or taro stem. It’s refreshing and crunchy, a lot like cucumber, and soaks up the delicious broth with its honeycomb texture. The stock itself is imbued with tamarind and tomato to create sweetness and tang. Toss in the supplied lettuce and beansprouts to add extra freshness and crunch.
They say fortune favours the bold, so don’t be shy – just ask Yen or one of the other friendly staff at Sen for bún cá, and enjoy this truly authentic taste of Vietnam.
Sen / UrbanSpoon
74-76 Nicholson Street, Footscray
Open daily from 9am till 10pm
Lauren is a food writer and you can read more of her work at her blog.