Thanh Thanh

246A Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 9428 5633

In an effort to be competently able to recommend restaurants along Victoria St, Recently Mr N and I went to Thanh Thanh – sneaking in a quick dinner before a movie at Victoria Gardens – one of hte things I love about Vietnamese restaurants in this strip is that you generally don’t have to wait long for your food. Thanh Thanh is no exception.

Mr N had the com chien bo luc lac (fried rice with cubed steak) and I had the perennial benchmark dish com tam suon dac biet (broken rice special – with a pork chop, egg/pork pate, shredded pork skin, and a fried egg).

The steak was in an unnecessarily salty sauce (given that it’s accompanied by a dish of salt and pepper and a lemon wedge, for dipping) and the fried rice was OK, but not spectacular. The broken rice was similarly pedestrian – the banh trung was overly salty, and had too meaty a texture for my liking. And the fried egg had a solid yolk! Part of a good com tam suon in my opinion is the runny yolk mixing with the dusty pork skin, creating a textural powerhouse of a sauce which coats the tiny grains of broken rice. Not this time, I guess.

Reading back over my various reviews of Vietnamese restaurants, I’m starting to think my expectations might be too high! But there are the odd few places that do completely satisfy me, so maybe I’m not *too* unreasonable. Thanh Thanh was not bad – good service and reasonable food, but I wouldn’t recommend it above other Victoria St stars like Vi’em, Co Do or Thanh Ha 2. They’re all similarly good value.

Thanh Thanh on Urbanspoon

Tan Truc Giang

36A Leeds St Footscray VIC 3011 – (03) 9689 9509
Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm

NB – update 30 Dec 2013: Truc Giang is now under new management. I haven’t been back yet.

I stopped in here for a quick lunch with my parents in between weekend errands. The food on display certainly was enticing:

I’d like to think it was just because we chose poorly, because what we were presented with was a little lackluster. I had the broken rice with a fermented prawn version of the steamed egg pate (mam trung) and braised tofu with pork and prawns on the side. The tofu, pork and prawn dish was flavoured well, but altogether too tough.

Dad had some tomato-stewed prawns, and braised basa cutlet, with rice. Again, the prawns were too tough. I think the (quite open) use of microwaves might be to blame here. But at $10 per serve, that’s a little poor, if you ask me.

Mum ordered the ‘house specialty’, Bun Mam (rice vermicelli with fermented fish stock) which didn’t arrive until about 15 minutes after our rice dishes, and even then that was only after prompting. Also, it didn’t resemble any Bun Mam we’d ever seen – there was a distinct lack of fermented fish flavour. It looked more like Hu Tieu Nam Vang to me.

As I said, though, I like to think we perhaps chose poorly on this occasion, as all of the grilled meats and the spring rolls looked very delectable behind the glass. I’ll be back, but I’ll try something else next time. The banh mi station looks like a good option.

Truc Giang on Urbanspoon

Pho Tam

1/7-9 Leeds St
Phone: (03) 9687 2680

This is a pretty typical Vietnamese restaurant in Footscray. And I know it’s bad practice to post a negative review based on one visit, but it was pretty average. The food was OK – I had the com tam dac biet (broken rice special – with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, fried egg and steamed egg pate). The rice was quite obvously reheated, the pork chop was a little tough, and the pate didn’t have enough pepper in it for my liking.

The lady running front of house – I think she was the owner – seemed more intent on chatting on the phone than remembering to bring me my lemon soda. It finally arrived after I asked again for it, and as I was finishing my meal.

Like I said, it’s probably not all that fair – they might have been short-staffed or having an off day – but this place was pretty average. And in an area with such a high density of good Vietnamese restaurants, being average is pretty poor, really.

Pho Tam on Urbanspoon

Com tam suon bi cha trung at Dong Que

102 Hopkins St, Footscray
Phone: 9689 4392

I will admit to being drawn in by the photos of food in the window (which often is not a good move) but I was reassured by the breadth and presentation of the menu – a display folder with thick plastic sleeves, and photos of the specialty dishes.

The com tam (broken rice) was satisfactory, but not amazing. The pork chop was a little underseasoned, and the nuoc cham (prepared fish sauce) lacked punch. Points for a perfectly fried egg, and ample amounts of bi (shredded pork and pork skin).

From the look of the menu, perhaps I should have been a little more adventurous, but com tam is often a good benchmark for Vietnamese restaurants in Australia, I find.

Dong Que on Urbanspoon