Ah, Thanh Binh. I love the food here! I love all Vietnamese food, and usually it’s the cheaper the better – but on occasions I need to come here to order their green papaya salad and caramel claypots, which are unsurpassed in the inner west.
There were eleven of us dining and due to popular demand I ordered us fresh goi cuon (though I prefer the fried cha gio spring rolls here myself). They were deservedly well-liked, fresh and herby with a lovely hoisin sauce to dip them into. I still think that newcomer Yen for Viet in Marrickville is my favourite for goi cuon though!
And here it is – the green papaya salad. Love love love. Be sure to get some of the yummy bits of sesame rice cracker which have absorbed all the delicious dressing too!
Next, we had bo luc lac. I haven’t tried it at Thanh Binh before. I was a little disappointed… Some pieces of beef were quite small and so didn’t have that lovely, satisfyingly juicy texture inside. Also the sauce was thickened, and a bit too sweet, and not peppery enough. Mr Black didn’t even recognise it as the same dish he loves! It wasn’t awful but I wouldn’t get it again.
Nevermind, here come the claypots! Tonight’s choice was caramel seafood claypot which is a slightly lighter alternative to the (amazing) pork version I adore.
It was delicious, as always. The pickles just make the whole dish come together so beautifully; sweet, peppery caramel combined with just a hint of vinegar, and the contrast of delicate seafood texture with the crisp and slightly chewy pickles… Divine.
The last dish was nearly as good – cá hoi rang me, lightly battered salmon wok-fried in a tamarind sauce with green apple, fresh basil and chill. Again, a dish which demonstrates the Vietnamese knack of balancing sweet, sour, spicy and salty so well. The fragrance of the Thai basil just made it all come together and have a party in my mouth. (Apologies for the terrible photo, I was rushed as everyone wanted to dig in straightaway!)
We didn’t really need dessert. But who ever does? So we ordered some anyway. 🙂 I am such a sucker for South-East Asian desserts! Coconut, banana, sago, palm sugar…!
They all tasted scrummy but the banana fritters were declared the winner, such an indulgent combination of textures! And even though they are totally different cuisines and I probably shouldn’t compare them, if I want to eat pandanus pancake again it’ll be at Malacca Straits.
It came to $320 for eleven of us, which was pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I even wondered if they’d made a mistake on the bill…
If you haven’t tried Thanh Binh before, and you like Vietnamese, you have to go and try it!