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 Dat – Grilled 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.