Thanh Ha 2 – Vietnamese in Richmond
120 Victoria St
03 9421 6219
Approaching the last days of our surgical rotation, Mr BN continued his tradition of bringing us interns out for a farewell dinner. Turns out what better way to wind down *ahem midweek* than at a Vietnamese restaurant, especially when half of us had surnames of: Nguyen, Huynh, Truong… haha!
The place is typically casual, with a slightly new-age décor and warm ambient lighting – very much in tune with other Melbourne Vietnamese joints. Originally the plan was for the 7 course beef feast, but given time constraints we then opted for a la carte. P.S. I can barely decipher a few words in Vietnamese – all food related – so please excuse the complete lack of symbols / tones used and any incorrect food labelling.
Vietnamese chicken salad + prawn salad – a luscious mix of crunchy beansprouts, juliennes of cucumber and carrot, prawn crackers, generous lashings of herbs and a final touch of nuoc cham.
A quick note on the Nuoc cham dipping sauce: I find many a places either have it oversalted or too heavy with fish sauce, and sometimes too flat in taste or simply untasteful. I am happy to say that Thanh Ha 2’s version is not too salty, with a sufficient level of tang. Though I do like mine with more aromatic notes of garlic, spice and a tad more sour. Though I suppose its personal taste, and subject to regional variation (within Vietnam), and for me it’s simply the way my palate was brought up with – aka mum’s version. P.S. I suspect people will ask for it, so there will be a later post on mum’s nuoc cham recipe.
(Bo la lot) Beef wrapped in betel leaves – The grilled betel leaves offers a peppery heat and herbaceous aroma to the moist beef juices within each roll. Served with a plate of lettuce wraps, bun (vermicelli noodles), cucumber and carrots – the intention is that you wrap it all up in a giant lettuce roll to achieve a balanced bite of flavour, but as with most things you can add whatever component you fancy or simply eat it on its own.
(Banh cuon thit) Steamed rice paper roll, prawns, nem chua (pork slices) with mung bean pie – As you can see people were quite eager to start picking things off this plate, a little bit of each element with a dash of sauce. No complaints here with the silky noodle rolls and crispy mung bean pies.
(Banh xeo tom thit) Vietnamese pancake – This is essentially a giant omelette with prawn, chicken, bean sprouts and onion hidden within. I totally loooove the crispy golden edges of the omellete that just crumbles to touch. Clearly a lot of oil was used to achieve this effect, but delish regardless.
(Ba mau) Three colour drink – is a sweet milky drink of red bean, green jello, coconut milk and a refreshing mound of crushed ice. I am always sad to not find mashed yellow bean in many places these days. Note: watching to see whether someone spills ice all over the table, is a sure sign to how familiar one is with Vietnamese cuisine. *Cough* – don’t look too closely!
(Banh khot) Mini pancake with Prawn – A golden crisp topped with a juicy morsel of prawn and savoury goodness. Not many places have this!
We also ordered a couple of extra doses of carbohydrates for the night with two plates of fried rice. One with a touch of chilli heat and sweetness, whilst the other was more of a typical Yangzhou (Cantonese) fried rice. These two plates of rice definitely pushed us over the edge of being WAY too full to be comfortable! Ah, gluttony!
Rating: Yummy and a bit – definitely one of the better Vietnamese places in Melbourne with consistently pleasant flavours and of course an agreeable nuoc cham. Certainly a place I’d return for a cheap, casual eat!
[Dinner courtesy of Mr BN]