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Sure there’s a huge a la carte menu on offer here, and sure there are some real treats to be found within its pages. There’s lemony rare beef tangled among a crisp, fresh Vietnamese coleslaw featuring coriander, onion and carrot; there are huge bowls of congee and - fresh from the tank - come lobster, abalone, silver perch and plates piled perilously high with mud crab in XO sauce. But that’s not why we’re dining at the Star, one of Footscray’s most popular Vietnamese/Chinese restaurants. We’re here to sample those tender strips of venison, beef and kangaroo a-sizzling on the tabletop barbecues. We’re here because we’re a DIY kind of crowd keen to cook our own food, and if our hands get a little sticky in the process, well that’s just too bad.
The friendly and attentive staff get you started, strewing your table with plates of herbs and salad, rice paper wrappers, and hoisin sauce, but after a brief demonstration of how to roll your own rice paper rolls it’s up to you – and that is where the fun starts. Dip your wrapper in steaming water, lay it on your plate and top it with herbs, salad and glistening strips of freshly fired meat. Wrap it all up, dip it in the sweet hoisin sauce provided and take a bite. The sense of achievement gleaned from rolling your own meal adds to the fun, especially if you’ve never made rice paper rolls before; the kids especially will love it, although it’s best to keep their fingers away from the barbecue plate. It can be messy, and rolling those darned things is sometimes not as easy as it looks, but the fresh flavours of the herbs combined with the salty, oniony meat makes it all worthwhile.