Hem means ‘alleyway’ in Vietnamese, and in Saigon, these narrow lanes are where hawkers served the best authentic street food. Hem 27 in Melbourne Showgrounds Village recreates this delicious tradition in a clean modern setting. A small restaurant with communal tables, akin to the alley experience, where customers literally dine together.
Hem 27 was named by Good Food Guide 2017 as one of Melbourne’s Best Cheap Eats, and their menu of amazing flavours more than lives up to it. You can enjoy noodle soups made with recipes from different regions of Vietnam, as well as a great variety of snacks, vegetarian dishes, salads, desserts and drinks. They also serve group dishes, perfect for sharing with friends and family. Pretty much every Vietnamese favourite is here, plus some rare dishes that will surprise you – all reasonably priced.
Their bestselling chef’s special is Banh Canh Cua: tapioca noodles with fried soft shell crab in thick crab gravy broth. Another soupy delight is the special Hem 27 Sate Noodle soup – rice noodles or egg noodles with beef and prawns, in a spicy peanut sate broth. Want something extra unique? Try the Banh Tam Bi – a cold dish of udon noodles with salad and shredded pork, slathered with coconut sauce and topped with homemade fish sauce. There’s also a range of rich and satisfying pho to choose from.
Spring rolls are a must, of course: vegetarian, chicken, pork or seafood in rice paper and vermicelli net wraps. Also, try the Cut Chien Bo to snack – crispy butter sautéed quail, marinated in soy sauce and herbs. Coconut cream desserts are a Vietnamese signature as well. Savour the sweet steamed rice cake, or cool off with a Che Ba Mau – 3 coloured shaved ice cendol with mung beans.
For drinks, besides the staple drip filter coffee, Hem 27 serves some great iced teas and fresh fruit juices. Exotic highlights include lychee tea, midnight chia and Tra Pho Mai – strawberry, watermelon or pineapple tea topped with cream cheese.
Hem 27’s superb Vietnamese cuisine has earned much popularity, so it can be crowded at times. It’s definitely worth the wait, or you can pre-book your seats on their website.