Sometimes you just want a tasty but cheap meal, and when we caught up with some friends recently, the Vietnamese restaurant Three Red Stripes in Doncaster East was what we locked into our radar. The restaurant’s fit-out was a semi-odd mixture of French Provincial meets chintzy Vietnamese cafe – but it was relatively clean and the staff were quite accommodating – so we shrugged our shoulders as we were led up the stairs to our table.
The meat-eaters of the group (which was everybody except me!), wanted to try a few dishes so started with a special called Chao Tom ($9.00/3) which was prawn meat wrapped around sugar cane and fried. Overall, it was good but nothing overly special.
Whilst the Prawn & Pork Rice Paper Rolls ($9.00/3) were fresh – the prawns and pork had no seasoning whatsoever, and the lack of fresh herbs stuffed into the rolls meant the only real flavour was the hoison-styled dipping sauce. Verdict? Meh.
My Vegetarian Rice Paper Rolls ($9.00/3) were a real disappointment. No other way to say it than that. If the meat version was meh, then my veg version was double meh. Again, no flavour added to the tofu (yes, that is tofu in the photo, not cardboard) and hardly any herbs rolled in. I will put a disclaimer here and say I’m being a bit more harsh because I am half-Vietnamese. Yes, I make veg rice paper rolls at home — and honestly, my ones would run circles around these ones any day of the week, and then do an around the world and back b*tch slap to them for pretending to be something with flavour. Honestly. They would.
The one major saving grace for the evening was the Pork Skewers ($9.00/4), which were so good that the carnivores ordered a second helping of them! Marinated in a spicy seasoning – you could actually smell how tasty these were. Yay! Finally, something on the table that had something that would actually please the taste buds!
The hungry meat eaters also shared a plate of Black Pepper Beef with Rice ($12.50), which was fine. This dish was nothing overly impressive but nothing overly wrong either.
To offset their meat fest, the carnivores shared a salad, granted it was a Beef Salad ($16.00), which was a variety of fresh shredded cabbage and other vegetables with a nuc-mam chilli dressing. Quite spicy but tasty and they all dug into this one – until the spice overtook the taste buds! ha! Okay, I shouldn’t laugh….
My main was a bowl of Vegetarian Vermicelli topped with chopped up Spring Rolls ($11.50), which was good. Slices of cucumber, carrot, a sprinkling of peanuts and no where near enough fresh herbs – I drowned in the nuc mam dressing. Again, it was good – just not really up to my standard as someone who grew up on Vietnamese food. For those of you who might not be well versed in Vietnamese food of the fresh variety (eg. rice paper rolls, vermicelli, etc) – it’s all about the herbs. There has to be a pile of at least mint, basil, coriander and chives to make those sort of dishes shine.
So, overall? With the corkage at $5.00 per bottle, it was cheap for sure, especially for the amount of food we had. But flavour-wise, I can honestly say me and Hubby bear aren’t tempted to head back any time soon.
Address: 984 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East, VIC 3109
Tip! Perhaps try their Pho, which none of us had because it was a hot night. Many of the Zomato reviews rave about the pho, so if I were you, I’d hedge your bets there.