It had been a while since I was last in Yarraville. My last visit saw a trip to Ballarat Street’s Café Fidama, a simple yet enjoyable evening from memory. I have only fond memories of the street and suburb so I was quietly chuffed to be returning once again to the small foodie enclave. This time to Bopha Devi.
I must confess to being a little green when it comes to Cambodian food. Whilst I had an idea that it would be similar to that of Vietnamese cuisine, I was not prepared for the variety that it offered.
But to the cuisine later. First and foremost, Bopha Devi is a tiny restaurant. Barely big enough to house the twenty-odd diners present during our visit, the restaurant offers a few two-to-three-seater tables, along with several larger share tables. Being small, the restaurant is also cosy, with local artwork hanging next to some presumably Cambodian offerings. A small bar and service area toward the back corner of the restaurant completes the picture.
The entrée menu is littered with tasty offerings from the aptly named Prawn Pucks, coated in panko then deep fried ($13.90) to the grilled chicken ribs, marinated in a mild green curry ($12.90). We went with the fish cakes, served warm and fluffy with a lovely kaffir lime leaf zing and prawns served wrapped in a crunchy wonton-esque coat. The prawns, although simple, were fresh and right on the money. Even if they were served with sweet chilli sauce. Which I guess brings me to the point of Bopha Devi. Although an attempt is made to break free of the typical ‘Asian’ menu, Bopha Devi doesn’t try and pass itself off as something it’s not. You won’t find haute cuisine here. Just honest, fresh and simple flavours, executed with a degree of knowledge. But I digress.
Mains brought an even more diverse selection to the table. We chose the Amok, steamed fish curry with coconut cream, lemongrass, turmeric and lime-leaves, served with rice ($27.90). The fish was firm and tasty and complemented expertly with a sweet and honest curry sauce. Lovely. Also on the menu was the Saramann, or tofu served again with coconut cream, onion, lemongrass, turmeric, lime-leaves with the addition of broccoli flowers, five spices, and crushed peanuts ($19.90). Similar in flavour to the Amok, yet subtly different and very nice.
It was then onto the Bai Mouan. Steamed chicken and rice served with shredded lettuce and cucumber dressed with a tangy lemon and garlic sauce ($18.90). This was the dish of the night for me. Amazingly tender chicken, and the flavour from the rice was cleansing and wholesome. A real standout.
The wine list at the Yarraville restaurant is somewhat smaller than its Docklands sibling, although we were offered some reasonable wines at very reasonable prices. We went the ’08 Pizzini Pinot Grigio from King Valley ($8.50) and ’08 Sheep Drop Pinot Noir from Central VIC ($8.50). Easy.
So what to make of Bopha Devi? Well, If you’re looking for something stand out and amazing, you will probably be a little disappointed. Conversely, if it’s fresh ingredients, superbly cooked and well balanced that you’re after, look no further then Bopha Devi. Definitely worth the trip to the quaint Yarraville.
Check them out here.