Atrium Food Court

Ahhhh.. what can I say. This place is full of variety and affordable dishes from Chinese, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Thai and many more.

The two spots we picked are the Vietnamese stand – Pho and Banana Leaf.

Chicken rice.

Lemon grass pork on rice noodle.

Overall, for dishes below $9, they’re not too bad. I’ve never tried the Vietnamese before but it’s always quite lonely. I can see why – it’s being overshadowed by the cheap Chinese stand next to it, the “excitement” of the Mexican on the other side and the overly popular Japanese stand nearby. Pho did make a mistake, instead of the pork I ordered, I’m sure I tasted chicken. It looked like chicken as well. I certainly won’t go back there even though the dish is decent. The competition is just too stiff and Pho lacks the marketability – sad but true, that’s what happens when you’re in a food court. You just need to catch the customer’s attention.

A notable mention would be the Malaysian – Banana Leaf. You even get a loyalty card. The chicken rice is not bad, but I have more favourite dishes in there (curry and wonton noodle soup). The portion is large and they seem to give a bowl of soup for most dishes. Very nice.

At this stage, I’ll give the Atrium food court an 8/10 for these two stands. I’d recommend Banana Leaf rather than Pho. There will be more to come, particularly the Japanese stand. It’s got so many variety, it’s crazy! Atrium has one fantastic thing, it’s free parking on the weekends if you spend more than $5 and it’s smack in the middle of town – that means you can go shopping. One destination I’d recommend is that $3 Japanese shop. =)

Hansan

Hansan in Newmarket is one of those places that is easily recognisable. It’s located across the fitness centre in Nuffield Street. I decided to go there because it’s one of those moment where I thought, “Oh I haven’t been there for quite a while.”

Hansan claims itself to be a Vietnamese restaurant, but recently it has a new competitor. In fact, it’s the losing side compared to Pho South Vietnam restaurant. And tonight at Hansan, it still cannot overcome Pho’s superiority. The dishes we had, chicken beef curry with rice noodle and vermicelli with pork. We had a starter/side, which is the chicken satay – 2 tiny pieces for $4.50. Quite pathetic I thought, and could get large chunkier satay chicken pieces about 10 mins walk in Newmarket plaza (the foodcourt).

Chicken satay.

Beef curry with rice noodle.

Barbecued pork skewer with vermicilli.

We also had another dish, the chicken curry with egg noodle. Overall, the price for the dishes are reasonable, around $8.50 and flavoursome. However, the curry beef was disappointing – almost no meat. The chicken curry wasn’t too bad.

I have to give this place a 6/10 for this occasion. I wasn’t happy with the portion/size of the side dish, and the curry beef had more fat and skin than meat. Hansan seriously need to work on giving quality not quantity. Not everyone eats everything from the animal. I have seen high ratings for this place, so I believe it depends on what dish you have.

Pho South Vietnam Restaurant

Oh my, oh my. This place is great. It’s one of my regular visits, simply because all their dishes are of high standard and it’s affordable. With the increase in food and fuel prices, you don’t even need to sell your kidneys to eat hereI I have tried a lot of dishes here, from the special fried rice (below), tomato rice, curry rice noodle etc. Additionally, it has won the best sandwich award from Metro last year.

Roast Pork Vietnamese Bun.

Deep fried chicken with special fried rice.

The sandwich is great. It’s really close to what I’ve tried in Footscray, (which is one of the Vietnamese suburbs in Melbourne) except over there, the food is much more authentic and it’s ridiculously cheap. For example, a Vietnamese bun, you’d expect to pay AUD3. In Pho, (the sandwich section is called Banh Mi Bale), it’s like NZD6. But hey, it’s the only place I know that sell these Vietnamese buns in Auckland.

The place should be notably mentioned for their rice noodle soup and fried rice. They are flavoursome and well-presented. I’m going to give this place a 9/10, and very close to authentic Vietnamese food. Also, the prices for their dishes are below $10. The rice noodle soups are great for winter, so I’d recommend going there for the next 3-4 months.

Oh, and I almost forgot, try the Vietnamese coffee. It’s heavenly.