The first of Westside’s food vendors are open for business. Even if you’re sceptical about the much maligned pop-up village concept, it’s worth checking out for a cheap and easy lunch.
This was my first visit to Westside, and I was surprised at how quiet it was, particularly for a sunny weekday lunchtime. Most of the food vendors have been open for at least a week or more, but apart from a couple of teenagers playing basketball on one of the courts, some construction workers and the smell of food wafting from the vendors’ shipping containers, there weren’t many other signs of life. Maybe I chose the wrong time to visit?
Westside’s food vendors include The One, which serves gourmet sandwiches, tacos and wings; Habibiz, specialising in Middle Eastern barbecue food; Vietnamese street food stall Miss Vân’s, and a smoothie bar. I was impressed by the variety of foods on offer, which made choosing what to order very difficult.
In the end, I was tossing up between a pork belly pressed sandwich (caramelised onions, slaw, pickled watermelon, pork belly, cheese mix and garlic for $12.50) from The One, a Habibiz fries roll (fries, Lebanese bread, garlic dip, coleslaw, pickles and tomato for $9.50), and a chicken and ginger vermicelli noodle bowl ($11) from Miss Vân’s.
What I didn’t realise is that most of the vendors didn’t yet have EFTPOS (though they said it wasn’t far away!). The nearest ATM is in the city, which seems like a rather significant planning oversight. I didn’t have cash, so I ordered the chicken and ginger noodle bowl ($11) and a Vietnamese pork roll ($7) from Miss Vân’s, as it was the only vendor with EFTPOS.
Miss Vân’s menu is simple (think beef noodle soup, Vietnamese sandwiches and vermicelli noodle bowls, as well as rotating specials), but the flavours are as complex and subtle as you’d expect from a vendor whose family has been cooking the stuff for three generations.
The food is prepared to order, and as I watched the man behind the counter pile toppings on a monster pile of vermicelli noodles, I realised that ordering the pork roll may have been slightly unnecessary.
The chicken and ginger noodle bowl was a big serving of vermicelli noodles topped with chicken, bean shoots, cucumber, mint, coriander, pickled vegetables, toasted peanuts and a sweet Vietnamese dressing. As far as light, fresh lunches go, it was a winner – cheap and easy without being stingy.
Likewise, the pork roll was huge, very fresh and would easily satisfy most people for lunch. Go easy on the chilli oil if you’re not a fan of super spicy food, as it packs a lot of heat. Bonus points for using house made pate, too.
Despite the criticism, Westside has a lot of things going for it. There’s an impressive line-up of food vendors, ample pay parking right next door and – if our visit during Friday lunchtime is anything to go by – it’s still quiet enough that you don’t have to queue for food. I’m already looking forward to visiting again, cash at the ready, to try the other vendors’ foods.
Have you tried the food at Westside?
What: Miss Vân’s Street Food
Where: Westside, Acton
Opening hours: 12pm to late Wednesday to Friday, 10am to late Saturday, 10am to 6pm Sunday