Tien Dat

3 Carrington Rd
Box Hill VIC 3128
+61 3 9890 9699

It’s been one helluva hot weekend and with temperatures in their mid to high 30s, staying at home was not ideal – heck, the aircon only covers the dining and living room areas and naturally, my room is the hottest room in Summer because it’s so far from the aircon and because the sun is always facing it during the day. Anyway, Adam and I couldn’t be bothered with the whole Moomba thing so we decided to hang out at Box Hill library on Sunday. But before we did, we had to have lunch. Now, when one is at Box Hill, one would normally have Cantonese chow because the area is dominated by Chinese people. And if you’re a scaredy-cat who is scared of Chinese food or felt like something different for once, you’d go to Nandos or (if you’re desperate), La Porchetta. Even though the Asian/Caucasian population in Box Hill is 10 billion to one, there is surprisingly few Vietnamese folk. Apart from that dodgy Viet restaurant near the intersection of Station/Whitehorse (Kim Thuy Vi), the ubiquitous Pho Dzung and the not-so-fantastic Sunny Court, you wouldn’t find many Viet joints.

If you happen to be on Carrington Road, however, you might find yourself in front of a small little joint called Tien Dat. Although I’ve been going there for years, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much so I’ll do a review.  Anyway, Tien Dat doesn’t look like your typical Vietnamese restaurant – the ones you get in Footscray, Richmond or Springvale. It’s more furnished, more “clean” and more homely. Adam and I reckoned that it’s because the owners might be from Hanoi (c.f. most Vietnamese in Australia who are from Saigon) and apparently Hanoi is the “style capital” of Vietnam, hence the attention to decor. When I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I tend to be very boring and order a simply beef pho and sometimes when I’m feeling adventurous, I’d *gasp* order a seafood noodle soup. . But when I’m with Adam, we always share our dishes anyway so we would always have a variety of things to eat.

Vietnamese spring rolls pwn over their Chinese counterparts. I’m sorry, but it’s true. They’re much yummier and less greasy. Ever since Adam and I have been mass-producing Vietnamese spring rolls at my house, we’ve stopped ordering them at restaurants because they charge $8 for what, 6 measly pieces (?!). But when we saw that Tien Dat had Hanoi Spring Rolls in their menu, Adam urged me to give them a try. Now, I’ve been to heaps of Vietnamese joints in Melbourne but never have I seen Hanoi Spring Rolls on the menu. They taste very similar to the “normal” spring rolls but the Hanoi ones are bigger and they are wrapped in rice paper rolls then fried, instead of those spring roll wrappers made with wheat flour. You eat them with vermicelli. wrapped in lettuce leaves and dip them in nuoc cham. They are so yummy – I want to make them!

What we found weird, though, was that apparently all the spring rolls in Vietnam are made like this (i.e. using fried rice paper rolls). Everywhere Adam went, they would have stalls selling these snacks. But they didn’t call them Hanoi Spring Rolls, just “spring rolls.” In fact, we had no idea why they called it Hanoi Spring Rolls (although Martin, Adam’s BFF from high school, tells me that they were invented in a top Hanoi restaurant). God knows why they use the wheat flour wrappers in Vietnamese places in Melbourne though…. could be because they are cheaper perhaps?

But if anyone knows of any Melbourne joints that have these spring rolls, let me know!

Another popular item on the menu at Tien DatGrilled Seasoned Beef wrapped in Betel Leaf (Bo lá lốt). On the plate, they give you some vermicelli noodles which you are supposed to wrap up in lettuce leaves (also provided) with the beef. They also give you mint and coriander as well. Of course, you can’t eat this dish without a small bowl of nuoc cham too. Yum!

My seafood noodle soup. The right amount of noodles and plenty of seafood to make me happy – not like Tho Tho in Richmond, they have more vegies than seafood in their bloody seafood noodle soup! My soup was yummy but it would never beat the one that Thanh Dat in Springvale USED to make before they dipped their standards not too long ago. Granted, Tien Dat’s version beats a lot of the ones served in Footscray. And Adam, who isn’t a fan of seafood noodle soup, reckons this was the best one he’s had so far. So there.

Having said all that though, Footscray still pwns over everyone else when it comes to beef pho and banh mi thit. I go to Hung Vuong on Hopkins Street for beef pho (they come in all sizes, even baby sized!) and Nhu Lan for bánh mì(Also on Hopkins Street). Sometimes I go to Ba Le (around the corner from Nhu Lan) for their bánh mì too when I feel like it or when I am 50 cents short of a bánh mì from Nhu Lan. They are so much better than the pissy Vietnamese joints on Swanston Street (although I’ll eat there when I feel like Vietnamese and can’t be bothered trekking to Footscray or Richmond).
I eat too much.

8 Comments

  1. icesabre
    March 11, 2008

    Hahahaha, Tien Dat… we went there for our last 3 team lunches!!!!

    Reply
  2. shanenma
    March 11, 2008

    Interesting blog I read. A few comments to make today (I feel that big comment vibe coming over me again today – please understand and prepare)

    1. I refer to your quote Even though the Asian/Gui Lao population in Box Hill is 10 billion to one. I say, yes, ok, understand what your trying to get across, exaggeration, but yes we melbournians, and Australians for that matter would believe there are a lot of asians in Box Hill (and melbourne for that matter). Heres my punch line, on my trip to Toronto Canada – you know how people always say “oh yeh, there are a lot of asians in Toronto” – I find people say this allllllllll the time. I use to just rebut to them and say…. pffft so… same with Box Hill, Springvale, Chatswood (Sydney) – nothing new to me.. BUT!!!!!! punchline… I went to Toronto and their “asian suburbs” (equivelent of Box Hill) – ok… now this is NO exaggeration. There are zero white caucasian people in that suburb!!!!! – I literally did not see one!!!!! I walked around their mall there, ALL shops are chinese!!! No english!!! (some shops had english names in small print next to their bold Chinese names!) – to emphasise my point further – the McDonalds menu was in CHINESE!!!! – You know how sometiems in shopping centres they have a little stage for performances and shows – yes, Richmond Toronto had this – it was a Chinese pre-school performance singing chinese carols…. Ok. I’ll leave this point here. But just thought I’d let you know your comment triggered this from me. That trip Amazed me! to say the least! – i took so many pictures – I really thought I was in HK – no real difference. Everyone spoke to me in Chinese (prob people didn’t even speak english).

    2. I’m sure your pictures make it look better than it is. You’ve given that place a lot of credit.

    3. For viet food in general I have never found anywhere I’ve been in the world better viet noodles (I haven’t been to vietnam – ha! – but I suspect melbourne viet food better. – Sydney viet food sucks! – nothing compared to melbourne! – I can’t even find decent place. HK viet noodles sucks baddd too!

    4. I challenge your comment of Footscray best viet noodles. Out of the big 3 – Richmond, Springvale and Footscray – I go Richmond all the way for viet food and pho and bum bo hue!!!

    I’ll leave my comment here…

    Reply
  3. jtngu8
    March 11, 2008

    Being 100% Vietnamese, I am constantly being fed Vietnamese food and I love it. It sounds like you live a fair way off from where I am, but if ever you are in the neighbourhood, look for Nam Giang (I hope I got the spelling right..), in Springvale. It’s a little pink building on the corner of two streets (the names of which have eluded me..) and its directly across from Springvale Station (which is a helpful tip!). It has THE best bun bo` hue on the planet at only $7. I could eat it 24/7 🙂

    I love your foodie posts – they make me hungry! Haha.

    And can I also add, you take aweseome food photos too. What camera do you have? Or better yet – how do you get such great photos? I’m such a point-and-shoot kinda girl, but I do actually want to know how some people can get such great shots of everthing.

    Jen.

    Reply
  4. jeslin87
    March 12, 2008

    More phos please. 😛

    Reply
  5. Laura
    May 16, 2011

    Shanenma: I have been going to Tien Dat for 15 years, and I can happily say that the quality of the food has always been above standard – these photos are true to the food that you will receive when you arrive there.

    The staff have also been the same since I first went there and remember me every time I come in – I don’t go that regularly but always ask how my parents and brothers are (they remember us all).

    A clean, affordable, high quality meal every time!

    Reply
    1. libishski
      May 18, 2011

      I agree, Laura. My family and I love Tien Dat! I haven’t been there in ages but hopefully they’re just as good the next time I go 🙂

      Reply
  6. KT
    September 30, 2011

    Hi Libishki, vietnamese spring rolls (in Vietnam) are always made with traditional rice paper. The reason why a lot of vietnamese restaurants use the chinese style wrappers are because they freeze well and can be premade, whereas you can’t freeze the traditional rolls, freeze them and get a good result.

    Having said that, places like Tien Dat and Indochine premade their “Hanoi” rolls (but not freeze) and par-fry them (so that they’re twice cooked) to save time.

    Reply
    1. libishski
      November 2, 2011

      Hey KT, thanks for that – makes a lot of sense! 🙂

      Reply

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