My search for great Vietnamese food most recently took me to Kim Thanh at West End.
The first thing you notice when you step inside Kim Thanh is just how big the room is. It's enormous. The next thing I noticed was the noise. We ate here on a Friday night, and it was very busy. The noise didn't worry me at all, I only mention it because its not the kind of restaurant where you should plan on a romantic dinner for two. On the other hand, if you're going out for a big group dinner, its perfect.
Once you sit down, you'll see that the menu is just as big as the main dining room. There is certainly no shortage of options, covering both Vietnamese and Chinese meals. My quick count of the items on the menu came to just under 200, and that's not including the specials up on the wall. So there's no excuse for not finding something tasty.
Anyway, we were here to eat Vietnamese. The Vietnamese entrees include spring rolls with salad or rice vermicelli ($6.50/$6.90), Vietnamese pancake ($6), deep fried quail ($6), rice paper rolls ($11.50) and a variety of rice noodle salads.
We ordered the bbq pork with rice vermicelli ($8.90) and the deep fried spring rolls with rice vermicelli ($7.90). The bbq pork was of the traditionally deep fried variety, chopped into chunks which were served on top of the salad. It was ok, without being memorable. On the other hand, the spring rolls were very good, filled with tasty vegetables. The salads were served with a fish sauce dressing (which is optional for the vegetarian salad).
There are so many options for main course I won't even try and summarise them all. The Vietnamese section of the menu covers seafood, pork, beef, chicken, duck & vegetables. The dishes which tempted me were the combination seafood steam boat ($38.50), braised scallop with kai-lan ($13.80), chilli prawns in hot pot ($13.80) and the crispy skin chicken, fried kai-lan and special sauce ($10.50).
I ordered the braised prawns with kai-lan ($13.80). This was a pretty generous serving, with clean flavours, so as not to overwhelm the prawns. The crunchy kai-lan was a good match with the stir fried prawns (of which there were plenty). I'd eaten so much of my salad for entree that it was hard work finishing off this main course. I probably enjoyed my main course more than the salad, mainly because I don't come across kai-lan as a star ingredient very often.
We also ordered the mixed vegetables with rice noodles in tom yum soup ($6.90), which was delicious. It was a huge serving, and although it wasn't chock full of vegetables, it was extremely tasty. The tangy, spicy and hot flavours all combined well to make this dish a winner. Even though we were both full by this stage, I kept slurping away at this soup right up until our meals were cleared away.
Service at Kim Thanh is of the efficient, no-fuss variety. We had hardly ordered when our entrees came out, and we had no trouble catching a waiter's attention whenever one was needed. The staff however were very concerned at the start of the night when my wife showed up at the restaurant by herself, offering her the use of the restaurant's phone to find out where her non-existent date was. Apparently they weren't entirely convinced when she explained I was just at the bottleshop buying some wine.
On the basis of this visit, Kim Thanh offers dependable Vietnamese food, with the option of ordering off an enormous Chinese menu as well. It was very popular with big groups on the night we ate there, so be prepared for a bit of noise. Kim Thanh is both licenced and BYO, and there is a bottle shop about 20 metres away, which is pretty handy.
What does all this mean? A big Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant, serving a huge menu of well-priced food, with no-fuss service.
food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Good
Ambience - A big, fairly noisy room, with not a lot of decor
Value for Money - Great
Wine - Licenced and BYO
Vegetarian - Great
93 Hardgrave Road
West End 4101
P - 07 3844 4954
W - http://kimthanhrestaurant.com.au/kimthanh/
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