It does not get more understated than this. If you’ve got this far, be sure to check out the absolute hidden gem of a dining experience at VR Bakers Restaurant. Starting out as a Vietnamese bakery offering the usual banh mi wares, VR has since expanded to a yum cha restaurant. Extreme value (possibly the best priced I’ve seen) and a good selection of Vietnamese meals to go along with the more traditional yum cha choices. The cheung fun (rice rolls) and pho were particularly exemplary, and it’s not often I can have those two in the same sentence. VR Bakers Restaurant: laughably cheap and entirely worth your time.
Our family of four braved the Boxing Day traffic to get some shopping in and we stopped in for some lunch in Papatoetoe. The location, signage and ambience don’t illustrate how good VR is, it’s all about the food. Some of the dishes like the fried taro ball (as below) are already cooked and in the warmer, so they come out quick but not with the fresh-from-the-fryer goodness you’d desire. Other dishes including the cheung fan (rice noodle roll) do take a bit more time but are worth the wait. The rice noodle has a good sheen and clean texture that made it a satisfying and not-too-heavy eat.
Siu mai was also decent, you get a quartet of the pork and prawn filled bundles of goodness.
Now for some wacky food alchemy. As VR Restaurant is first and foremost a Vietnamese restaurant, they still offer a full traditional Vietnamese menu offering. We had a pho with grilled lemongrass chicken. Along with the siu mai and cheung fan, it’s was a questionable permutation on paper. But those saltier yum cha items turned out to be nice contrast with the pho, with the meat full of flavour. Enviably charred chicken and marinated in some happening spices. Good fun.
We had another lot of the rice noodle paper rolls, this time with the pork. These come in the usual varieties of flavour, we had a chicken one as well which isn’t as common. The pork was my favourite with a good helping of spring onion along the generous insertions of meat.
I had a trio of the wrapped rice balls. These are a good execution with enough inside to keep things interesting. The frequent specks of saltiness and flavour in the ball make it more exciting then rice alone, as a good rice ball should have.
You get your money’s worth and then some at VR Restaurant. The place has a likeable charm that in part, comes from being a semi-Frankenstein of cuisine offerings. The yum char and Vietnamese options are all well cooked, well priced and coupled with the easy parking makes VR an easy choice of destination. Not too crowded either.