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Melbourne Food Review: Thanh Tam, Victoria St., Richmond

with 25 comments

Not the most dignified picture to start off a blog post but really, this isn’t a classy blog, is it? That is one of our entree, the barbecued quail ($7), which despite its undignified posture was easily one of the tastiest quails I have ever had (and I have had the famous Rumi quail).

Bo La Lot - grilled beef wrapped in betal leaves

(Bo la lot – grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves – $9?)

This post is the culmination of two visits to Thanh Tam (formerly known as Thanh Ha, the name change is still a mystery to us but mind you every time I hear a story about a Melbourne Vietnamese restaurant name change, it usually involves some sort of sordid family feud, anyone know what went on here?) whom I have grown to absolutely adore for its large interesting Vietnamese menu and just genuinely good cheap food.

(Banh cuon – steamed rice rolls with pork, prawns and other interesting things – $8?)

We first rocked up to this place at the recommendation of April from My Food Trail. The place was popular and a bit squishy. The four of us were cramped onto a small table, which is a big downer especially for this restaurant because the food is so damn cheap that you want to order more! In fact, our record so far is 7 dishes between 4 people.

(dipping sauces and accompanying vegetables)

The menu did make a distinction between entree and main but don’t be fooled, the classification entree really isn’t an indication of size but rather the fact that you don’t eat these dishes with rice. The small table problem became apparently when we ordered about 5 dishes between 4 people just to realise that the accompanying sauces, lettuce, herbs, bean sprouts and various other side dishes came before any actual dish and promptly filled up the table!

grilled chicken with sticky rice

(Grilled chicken with sticky rice – $9?)

Mind you even though we received about 5 dipping sauces – they all tasted pretty much the same despite the waiter’s insistence that they are for different dishes and must be matched accordingly. We started having to turn down some of the side dishes because let’s face it, we weren’t going to eat two whole heads of lettuces and two gardens worth of different herbs.

Vietnamese pancake - banh xeo

(Banh xeo – Vietnamese pancake with prawn and pork filling – $13?)

But the king of dishes at Thanh Tam is their banh xeo – crispy, coconuty ‘pancake’ filled with prawns, pork, beansprouts and spring onions. This seems to be the house favourite as almost every table there orders it. You can have it with various fillings – we went for the most tradtional prawn and pork. You take a piece of lettuce and a bit of herb, lay a piece of crispy pancake, spoon on the fillings and drizzle with the dipping sauce, wrap the lot up and put it in your mouth. Not enough restaurants in Melbourne serve banh xeo, I say. This is a dish not to be missed. And no, don’t try to go at it on your own. It’s freaking huge. Bring friends.

our Vietnamese banquet

At this point, sadly my camera ran out of battery on the first trip but we also ordered bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) and chicken congee. Everything I have had there ranged from good to awesome. I haven’t been let down by any dish there yet. And with most of the dishes under $10 – we plan to go back there often.

Just the small table! Damnit!

Thanh Tam (formerly known as Thanh Ha)
Address: 172 Victoria St. Richmond, VIC 3121 [ Google Map ]
Phone: (03) 9429 8130

Thanh Tam on Urbanspoon

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Written by Kat

May 16th, 2010 at 11:48 am

25 Responses to 'Melbourne Food Review: Thanh Tam, Victoria St., Richmond'

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  1. One of our favourite places on Victoria St (along with Pacific House and that Pho place who’s name i can never remember).

    Rory

    16 May 10 at 1:11 pm

  2. Excellent value! Love how there’s so much food for sharing.

  3. Oh, I had to laugh at the herbs, lettuce, sauces etc. filling up the table before the food even arrives! So true!! :)

    Ms Baklover

    16 May 10 at 8:17 pm

  4. Actually, I believe the banh cuon is technically the “house favourite” (according to a Vietnamese friend of mine — plus it’s on the sign), but their banh xeo does indeed rock. It’s one of my absolute favourite Vietnamese dishes (actually, one of my favourite dishes full stop), and I can happily eat a whole one on my own.

    Ruth

    16 May 10 at 9:54 pm

  5. I love Vietnamese food and am looking where to get great one. Now I know a place. Thanks for the post.

    Cherrie

    17 May 10 at 6:21 am

  6. Haha, I’ve eaten most (about 6/8s) of a banh xeo by myself before. And it was huge!

    Agnes

    17 May 10 at 4:46 pm

  7. That banh xeo does look incredible. Thanks for the post, I’m definitely going there soon. Need to branch out from my Victoria Street staple restaurants.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  8. yeah i can never remember my favourite pho place’s name and ive been going there almost ten years.

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:55 pm

  9. its fabulous for a night out with people

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:55 pm

  10. yeah and the table is actually a normal sized one…

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:56 pm

  11. is it? no idea. everyone ordered the banh xeo though. i always order both.

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:56 pm

  12. definitely give it a go :)

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:56 pm

  13. at thanh tam? cos thats the biggest ive ever seen. well done you.

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:57 pm

  14. i have a rule to not eating at the same restaurant twice until i try all of them. not doing well so far.

    Kat

    18 May 10 at 7:57 pm

  15. I had to stare at that first photo for a while to figure out what position that poor quail was in. Looks like it had a dislocated groin! And tasty to boot you say! Sold!

    Forager

    3 Jun 10 at 7:47 pm

  16. Haha, you beat me to it! I still have the photos waiting to be posted!

  17. poor thing. may it rest in peace. i feel bad about not only being responsible for its death but also its undignified showing on teh interweb.

    Kat

    22 Jun 10 at 4:59 pm

  18. Haha I still have photos from my honeymoon!

    Kat

    22 Jun 10 at 4:59 pm

  19. there are lots of cheap foods on the market that taste like crap but there are good quality ones too _

    Health Juice :

    31 Oct 10 at 9:53 pm

  20. I finally got there today and had the banh cuon, I had mine with pork. What a fantastic meal, so cheap and so filling! I also will try and go back again. Thanks so much for the review and the info.

  21. glad you liked the place. i feel bad when i recommend a place and people find it disappointing.

    Kat

    9 Nov 10 at 8:48 pm

  22. you can always buy cheap foods on any supermarket these days because food production is mechanized already *.-

    PH Test

    25 Nov 10 at 3:44 am

  23. I can’t take my eyes off those shiny steamed rice rolls. *mouth watering*

    Kat @CooksJournal

    26 Nov 10 at 3:00 pm

  24. they are rather shiny, arent they?

    Kat

    29 Nov 10 at 2:37 pm

  25. my all time favourite vietnamese too. Does anyone know of a Vietnames that serves food from the North? Looking for the best bun cha in Melbourne.

    marian

    13 Feb 11 at 5:05 pm

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