I had convinced Fran to come into city for Friday night dinner – not an easy feat as she tends to be extra slothy on Fridays (Saturday and Sunday are my sloth nights) She gave me two options – Hochi Mama or Rice Paper Sister (apparently the new Rice Paper Scissors). Having previously been traumatised by the long waiting times at RPS (and expected no less at RPS2), I quickly went with option number 1.
A bit behind the eight ball, I heard about Hochi Mama only a few months ago. Like most people, when I first heard the name, I did think strip joint. Apart from the red neon lights, HM is of course far from that.
The place was packed when we arrived but to my delight, we were seated within 15 minutes. The cute piggy thangs we are, we went with “Dinner for 2”, a $59 feast consisting of 2 smaller plates, 2 mains and 1 side. Determined not to go with the easy dishes (green curry/red curry/pad thai/massaman beef), we chose:
– Pho-plings: Steamed beef and pork mince Saigon style dumpling served with a special pho broth
– Hochi Chicken Banh Bao: Hochi Signature Fried Chicken served with spicy pickled cabbage, fermented chilli beans in a soft steamed bun.
– North meets South steamed Barramundi: Two serves, sweet and sour broth from Hanoi and sweet soy dressing from Saigon
– Hanoi style crispy beef ribs: Twice cooked fall off the bone crispy fried beef ribs, served with a zesty spicy salad & aromatic soft herbs.
– Hanoi seafood spring rolls
The service was speedy: I was two sips into my glass of red when the food came rollin in. The dumplings were as expected, average/slightly over cooked, but the soup was surprisingly quite tasty and light (just the way pho should be). The chicken bao was the best dish of the night for me. The chicken, crispy, and the kimchi had the perfect tang to cut through all that deep fried richness. The seafood spring rolls – we weren’t sure whether we were accidentally served the vegetarian spring rolls – yes, they were that ambiguous.
As for the mains, the sweet and sour Barramundi was so spicy I couldn’t bring myself to take a second bite (I also did not want to waste more wine to extinguish that fiery spiciness). To Fran’s credit, she did take one for the team and, choking through the burning, she did manage to finish it. The sweet soy better half was nice and salty and sweet and garlicky, but the sauce was gluggy like something out of a bottle. Anything twice cooked usually isn’t worth the time (exception – the thrice cooked potatoes at Mr and Mrs Anderson), and the beef ribs dish was no exception. They were very dry and tasteless. The salad was fresh and light, but the chilli padi (better known here as bird’s eye chilli) sprinkled through the dish made me guzzle the rest of my precious wine down.
Summary: I would wait the 45 minutes to get into RPS. Wait scratch that, I’d just head to a half decent place with a less than 15 minute waiting time.