We gather in Newtown for my Big Sister’s birthday.
Niecy-Poo and I had thought that African could be fun to try. The boy and I had only just watched Maeve O’Mara mmming and yumming her away around Africa on Food Safari earlier in the week and we were PUMPED to give it a try!
Big Sister was, initially, also pumped for African. However, as she and her boyfriend live in a remote town in WA and it’s her birthday there was a change of plan to “something Asian” please.
Now, I’ve done the living in the remote outback town thing myself. Living with hardly any options for dinning out other than your local RSL club or Chinese Restaurant sucks. BIG TIME.
And, I know that when you make it back to the big smoke you must eat as much of your favourite food as possible – stockpiling it until your next trip back to civilisation. My food drug was sushi train. Big Sister’s is Asian, specifically yum cha. But as that is a lunchtime food we have to choose something else.
After a quick pow wow with Niecy-Poo we come up with Thanh Binh Vietnamese on King Street. We’ve all eaten here before and loved it, so a booking is made.
The boy and I arrive 15 minutes late as we pick up Niecy-Poo on the way and I blame our late arrival on her (aren’t I a great Auntie). As I arrive at the table I notice a demolished plate of rice crackers. Sigh. I explain the concept of my new food hobby, explain what a food blog is, why I am doing it and explain that NO FOOD SHALL BE EATEN UNTIL I TAKE 25 PHOTOS OF IT.
The birthday girl looks like she may protest – but hey, I have birthday’s too you know, and this is the new rule when eating with me. Big Brother is not really happy with this new rule and shows me a mouthful of his chewed up rice cracker. Do you want a photo of this he says? Why yes, I do. SNAP. Big Sister’s boyfriend is silent. He knows that he will get to eat eventually and doesn’t want to rock the boat. I think I see Niecy-Poo roll her eyes – a quick glare in her direction sets things straight.
The boy explains he supports my new hobby. How sweet is he? He then goes on to explain that it means I stop bugging him to entertain me all the time. My new hobby is great for him. Sigh.
See what I have to put up with people.
Talks move on to ordering dinner. We settle on three entrees and three mains.
It’s a given we’re going to go for the Fresh Rice Paper rolls ($9). Big Sister floats the idea of the ‘roll your own roll’ as she thinks they are fun. Both Big Sister & Brother have been rolling their own cigarettes for years. Sometimes I tried to roll one for them and my efforts would look like a tobacco-filled slug had exploded in my hands.
A debate eschewed of pre-rolled vs roll your owns. I win (yay me). When the pre-rolled rolls arrived everyone oohs & ahhs and picks up their chopssticks to select a tasty morsel. I have to remind them photograph now, eat later.
The rolls are really good and you can’t help but feel healty eating them. Fresh, tightly wrapped and filled with prawns, pork, vermicelli and mint accompanied by a yummy peanut dipping sauce. Big Sister keeps looking forlornly at the other tables having ‘roll your own fun’.
Next to arrive is the calamari stuffed with minced chicken and glass noodles, with a side of plum dipping sauce ($11). Big Brother declares it looks like a calamari sausage, but it’s the best sausage I’ve ever had!
The salt and pepper calamari with tamarind dipping sauce ($11) appears next. The calamari is crispy and something on the plate is a good kind of spicy.
I must have missed something in the ordering process as a plate of steamed green veges and a plate of mushrooms in ginger sauce arrives. Unexpected, but good. The mushrooms aren’t on the menu, but Big Brother wanted something with mushrooms so they made us something special. Bless.
I have to say the staff here are really great. They are happy and accommodating and even put up with me trying to order by reading out the names in Vietnamese. It became a bit of a challenge for our waitress to interpret (guess) what I was trying to order.
Next up is the chicken with wood-ear mushrooms in a coconut sauce with crushed peanuts ($21). Creamy and moorish.
We move on to stir fried scallops with ginger, shallots and snow peas ($23). It’s a nice light dish and is a good follow on from the creamy chicken dish we just ate.
The last dish is the lightly battered pork ribs with lemongrass and sea salt ($21). It’s obviously deep friend as the meat is dry and crispy. Big Brother thinks it’s too dry, but I love it.
By the end of the meal Big Brother says he’s worked out what the boy & I are up to. The boy grabs the plate of food, positions it so I can get a snap or two and we then dig in first. What’s so wrong with that I ask you?
Thanh Binh is at 111 King St, Newtown.