The first time I ever had Cambodian food was in Phnom Penh. We had arrived late and hungry and went to a restaurant that should not have been recommended – even to tourists. I had not eaten it since that trip and whilst I came to enjoy its middle curries, rice and noodles, I had not sought out the cuisine in the melting pot of Melbourne food. But as our work Christmas lunch came closer, and expanded with the number of guests, Bopha Devi became the venue – the only one with space for us all after over 30 phone calls by our seriously organised organiser to different restaurants across the city.
The day of the lunch brought beautiful weather and I was pleased for a walk to the Docklands. The interior of Bopha Devi seems spacious and exotic with clever use of mirrors and colour. We had ordered the banquet and the two vegetarians had to sit together. As the smell of freshly cooked rice wafted in from the kitchen, my stomach started to grumble.
Entrees were perhaps the highlight of the meal. We were served a plate with three delights: a garlic and chive rice cake, a pumpkin filled parcel and a rice paper roll. The rice cake was my favourite. I love rice cakes and this was done so that it had the smooth glutinous texture. The rice paper roll was filled with lots of lettuce, rice noodles and a bit of tofu. I felt that they could have been more creative with this one. The pumpkin parcel was done like a fried wonton.
For main course we had three dishes and rice; a vegetable curry, noodles and a stir-fry. All three used the same vegetable mix but thankfully the flavours were individual. The curry was creamy and coconut based.
I enjoyed the short noodles which had a flamed taste and the same vegetables and firm tofu.
The stir-fry was pleasant, but my least favourite of the three with lots of onion and capsicum. I still fear uncooked brown onion from my days at boarding school.
There was a lot of food – we were all full by the end. Whilst the dishes were good, I would not recommend the vegetarian banquet as it lacked variety. Still it was a nice meal, a nice location and good service for a large group.
27 Rakaia Way
03 9600 1887