Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant, a quaint eatery serving pho-nomenal Vietnamese food
I love criss-crossing Penang on my motorcycle because it avoids two major headaches – traffic jams and parking problems. Thus, it is easy for me the head down to Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant (formerly Que Huong Toi Enterprise) to slurp up a bowl of delicious phở bò (Vietnamese beef koay teow soup).
The restaurant now operating under a different name has relocated to 134 Lebuh Noordin, right behind of Cititel Express. As you enter the restaurant be prepared to enjoy authentic Vietnamese dishes. Choices are aplenty including the popular Vietnamese phở (noodle soup), bánh mì (baguette split lengthwise and filled with various savoury ingredients), fresh spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee.
For simple comfort food, I ordered a bowl of phở bò. The clear beef stock was rich in flavour and brilliant for this noodle dish. Heaps of fresh herbs and spices (coriander, Thai basil, spring onions, grounded pepper) as well as sliced onions and bean sprouts added more depth to the broth. The beef slices were braised till tender and were just so tasty. For extra kick, I added lime juice and a dollop of chilli paste. The sensational synthesis of all these ingredients made it an invigorating bowl of goodness to savour.
Just like this bowl of phở bò, Vietnamese food looks simple at first glance. However, one would soon discover when indulging that the skilful balance of flavours is rather intriguing. The sweet and the salty, the cooling greens and the spicy chillies, the fresh herbs and the rich broth make it all too wonderfully enjoyable. Although phở bò is a quintessentially Vietnamese dish, I believe it has Chinese and French influences in its use of spices and stock technique.
Another interesting item I tried was Bún thịt nướng (Vietnamese barbecue pork chop with noodles). This bowl of noodles comes sans broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden. Blanched vermicelli was topped with grilled pork, crispy deep-fried popiah, pickled carrots, crunchy toasted peanuts and aromatic fresh herbs like coriander, spring onions and Thai basil. A sweet and spicy sauce was served on the side, giving you an option to control the seasoning of the dish. Packed with interesting textures and fragrant herbs, every mouthful was a wonderful encounter.
There are plenty of options on the menu to choose from, including bánh mì, nghêu hấp sả (clamps steamed with lemongrass) and bánh xèo (Vietnamese rice pancake with minced pork, prawns, bean sprouts, leafy greens and loads of herbs). Order and dig right in.
Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant prides itself on their drinks and desserts and if you are a fan of Vietnamese coffee, you are in for a treat. Besides the regular Vietnamese drip coffee, try their chilled Vietnamese herbal drink. This refreshing beverage consists of jelly-like extract (from the sap of the Gossampinus malabarica tree), basil seeds and toasted peanuts which added crunch and texture to the drink. A cool concoction for the tropics.
For dessert, I had my favourite bánh flan (crème caramel), drowned with Vietnamese milk coffee and crushed ice. The strong aroma of the Vietnamese coffee was full of flavour, making this such a satisfying end to a meal.
Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah
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19 November 2021
Hometown Vietnam Taste Restaurant
134 Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang
T: +6016 476 7498
(Que Huong Toi Enterprise was previously located at 56-W, Jalan Jelutong.)