Our first few outings in 2013 have been nothing short of a culinary rollercoaster, we reached dizzying heights with Pacific House only to plummet back down to earth with a ‘meal’ at Loving Hut a week later. However, as we moved away from these more ‘novelty’ restaurants with their crazy ideas of veganism and towards some of the street’s more generic options we expected that our ride would at least reach a momentary plateau. Thanh Phong which on face value is practically undistinguishable from a host of the street’s other restaurants boasts an extensive menu full of all the expected staples but offers little extra in the way of specials or any x-factor to set it apart.
By now, extremely familiar with this sort of menu we quickly skipped past the large egg-noodle soup section, straight through the hot pots and settled our attention on the chef’s specials. Intent on unearthing Thanh Phong’s hidden gems rather than filling up on lemon chicken or beef and black bean. We waited for something new and exciting to catch our eye. Unfortunately though nothing was jumping out, so with the assistance of our waitress we eventually settled on a serve of ‘Vietnamese sausage’ after her initial suggestions of lemon chicken and beef and black bean were quickly rebuffed. Additionally we also settled on a trio of small wonton soups, some prawn springers and a Vietnamese Coleslaw with prawn and pork to get the meal started.
The sausage or ‘Vietnamese salami’ as our waitress called it, arrived in quick time accompanied by some lightly pickled carrots, shredded lettuce and fresh cucumber as well as a peanut dipping sauce. Far from offensive the sausage had a rich, sweet taste that was complemented well by the fresh veggies. However, as the meat cooled and the surrounding supply of vegetables diminished it felt like the sausage was becoming increasingly overpowering and heavy. It was almost with relief that we were able to usher it to the sidelines of the table as the wonton soups and spring rolls arrived in unison. Immediately it was evident that the soup was absolutely abounding with dumplings, instead of the customary four or five wontons, each bowl was boasting close to eight. In addition small pieces of minced pork floating in the light broth ensured that this soup was one to be remembered. Slightly less memorable but no less delicious the spring rolls too were well received and quickly demolished. Finally, the arrival of the prawn and pork coleslaw rounded off the starters nicely. Although the sliced pork didn’t taste great and prawns didn’t really taste at all, the fresh salad with a generous amount of shredded cucumber and a good smattering of tasty fried shallots provided a refreshing remedy to the hot summers night.
With a 9’o’clock session of Django and talk of an extreme popcorn combo in the air it was decided that we’d go light on in the way of mains in order to maximise both our time and our appetites. However, as our serve of chilli chicken and salted prawns arrived any concerns about overeating quickly disappeared. About ten fried prawns which were perhaps slightly over-battered and under-seasoned posed little threat to our appetites. As for the chilli chicken it was a miracle that we were even able to maintain any semblance of an appetite in the wake of its arrival. It was immediately obvious that the chicken wasn’t great quality and was more skin than meat. A brief taste confirmed our concerns that the dish was practically inedible with the chilli sauce doing nothing to mask the taste and feel of the chicken. Despite Marge’s polite claims that ‘the carrots were ok’ (they weren’t) it was abundantly obvious that the meal would conclude on a low point!
Unfortunately it seemed that our roller coaster would remain in decline for at least one more week, luckily we had a blockbuster movie and a massive bucket of popcorn to look forward to. While the movie lived up to expectations, Dizz’s introduction of a sachet of cheese flavouring into the popcorn ensured that, that was also ruined!
Value 2.5/5 ($102)
Django 4/5 - The d might be silent but unfortunately the way Dizz eats popcorn isn’t!