I know this is supposed to be a Brisbane food blog, but I've now been to Thanh Ha in Melbourne twice and the food is so good, it's more than worthy of a mention.
Thanh Ha is on Victoria Street in Richmond, along with another 20 or so Vietnamese restaurants. You can stroll along Victoria Street until one takes your fancy. Most of them are BYO and extremely well priced.
The ambience here isn't anything to write home about. It's no nonsense, with the tables crammed in. But you're here for the food, not for fancy surroundings. Don't come here if you are planning on lingering for hours over a slow dinner, because it isn't going to happen.
Menus are provided as soon as you sit down, as is a thermos full of jasmine tea. There is a good range of Vietnamese food to choose from. On this visit I had the Pho as an entree, which was very tasty. I am a big fan of Pho as a starter, and this one didn't disappoint. If you find it's not hot enough for your taste, you can throw a chilli or two into it to spice things up.
Although I was thinking my Pho was pretty special, I eventually tried one of the vegetarian rice paper rolls that we had also ordered to kick off the night. They were pre-made, but they were without a doubt the tastiest rice paper rolls I have ever had the fortune to try. They were delicious. The difference seemed to be the inclusion of a very tasty mushroom in the roll. Make sure you give them a try, as they were excellent.
On to main course. Like last time I was here, I went for the crispy chicken with 5 spice sauce. Although there are some great sounding dishes on the menu, this one was so good last time, I just had to have it again. And it didn't disappoint - the crispiness of the chicken, which was tender underneath the skin, coupled with the terrific flavour of the sauce makes this dish a winner. I could eat this all night. Luckily I was getting fairly full by that stage, so I didn't need to.
We also had a vegetable rice noodle soup for main, which comes with bean sprouts and chopped fresh chilli. Again, this was clean, tasty and disappeared pretty quickly.
We couldn't help but notice that the omelettes are very popular at Thanh Ha. They come out looking like a massive pancake, but they must be good, as most other diners had at least one on their table. I'll have to try one next time.
Service here is adequate and not fussy. Last time we ate at Thanh Ha our entrees and mains came out in no particular order until we had 4 dishes plus rice on the table all at one time (just for 2 people). We didn't care as the food was so good.
I haven't yet mentioned the prices. They are fantastic. Our bill for 2 entrees and 2 main courses was $31. No more really needs to be said there.
Thanh Ha is BYO. There is a pub right across the road, otherwise there are a number of Asian grocery stores along Victoria Street where you can pick up a good bottle of white on your way.
Finally, if Thanh Ha is full, try Thanh Ha II, which is also on Victoria Street, slightly closer to the city.
If you find yourself in Melbourne looking for a fix of Vietnamese food, jump on a tram to Richmond and treat your tastebuds to a fine night out at Thanh Ha. You won't be disappointed.
What does all this mean? Excellent, tasty Vietnamese food at crazy prices.
food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - OK
Ambience - not a lot, but you won't be here long enough to worry about it
Value for money - Top Shelf
Wine - BYO
Vegetarian - Great
172 Victoria Street
Richmond VIC 3121
P - 03 9429 8130
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