Thanh Nga 9

160 Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 9427 7068

One of the greatest things about having a new home to set up is that it gives me an excuse to go to IKEA. I know, I know, IKEA is kind of evil, and I’m not going to completely surround myself with soul-less flat-packery. But it’s very useful when you need a wardrobe, or some stupidly large beer glasses. One of the greatest things (apart from the satisfaction of entering through the checkouts and being in and out in under half an hour – like a ninja!) is it’s a good excuse to hit the Vietnamese restaurants on Victoria St. Not that you really need an excuse, but…

Anyway, I had heard good things about Thanh Nga Nine on the twitters, and finally stopped in last week. Thanh Nga Nine is (to the best of my knowledge) not the ninth in a chain of restaurants. The menu is slightly different from most places in the strip; yes, it has all your favourites, but there’s also a definite nod to the owner’s Mekong delta origins, with specialties from the area clearly marked on the menu. Well, clearly if you know the names of delta towns.

My pathetIKEA friend Mr D (his words, not mine) came along, because he was in need of some flat-packery. For some reason, even though we’d arranged to meet for dinner, he’d already eaten beforehand, so he had the Soc Trang style fried rice cakes.

These are a southern take on the more the more ubiquitous banh beo, which are a traditional dish from central Viet Nam. Basically, the ‘cake’ is made from glutinous rice flour, which is steamed, then topped with mung bean paste, and ground minced prawns. In this version, the rice cake is deep fried before the toppings are added, giving it a nice crispy rim. The cake is also much thinner, with more mung bean, which I though was a good move, as the rice cake is somewhat dull, and the mung bean paste is much more satisfying. The cakes came with two dipping sauces – a nuoc cham which was a bit heavy on the sweet chilli to my liking, and a salted coconut milk. Which sounds weird, but is awesome.

Needing a more hearty feed, I chose the bun rieu cua mien tay (South Western style crab and tomato noodles). The broth was wonderfully rich and full of crab flavour, though there was definitely a big dose of MSG in there too. Not in a terribly bad way.

The ‘toppings’ included prawns, fish, tofu puffs, and to my delight, congealed blood (the brown cube on the right). The actual bun used was a thick rice vermicelli. A good selection of herbs and shredded vegetables which come with the dish added that freshness and lightness which is one of the things I love about Vietnamese food.
If these dishes are representative of the rest of the menu, I’m definitely going back. Even if the proprietress was a little overwhelmingly friendly. But that’s just more authenticity for you!

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2 Replies to “Thanh Nga 9”

  1. Oh, you didn't have Swedish meatballs in the Ikea cafe??

    How refreshing to see some different Vietnamese dishes! I get so excited when I find something on the menu that's not the classic spring roll/rice paper roll/blah blah.

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