Friday, August 18, 2006

Binh Minh, Northbridge, Perth

This is a new little gem that opened only in the recent months, taking over from some phở shop which I did not care for much anyway. In an coincidental spate of events, I was dining here with a Vietnamese friend and his verdict was that the food is very tasty although he would classify it as modern Vietnamese as it's apparently not very traditional. Go try it and be your own judge I say.

Grilled beef salad, the beef was only just grilled around the edges and was slightly rawish in the middle, almost abit akin to a modified carpaccio of sorts. The harmony of flavors in this was just excellent, the salty beef combined with the sweet and tangy dressing plus the onions were just the things you wanted in a starter. This dish seemed to have a Thai influence but it sure kicked more ass than the ones I had in Thailand.

Salt and pepper squid, Vietnamese style that is. This was their take on the salt and pepper squid served in almost every Chinese restaurant in Australia. I actually enjoyed this version alot because instead of the straight forward salty flavor this had a subtle sweet fish sauce added and the batter which melts in your mouth tasted almost buttery.

Deep fried fish with sweet sauce. When we ordered this I was almost fearing a thick sweet sauce (a la sweet and sour fish) but the sauce which went with this was pleasantly light. The texture of the fish was amazing, it was fried to a crisp externally but was still soft and fluffy on the inside. Perhaps one of the better battered fish fillets I've tried. The serving was huge too which was a notable plus.

The highlight of the meal, Vietnamese steamboat (great for winter). My Vietnamese friend gave his seal of approval for this one because it had pineapple and lady's fingers (or okra, we're not talking about the lady's finger spongecakes we use in tiramisu). I really liked how they used this inverted sombrero-like structure as the steamboat, in that way the table wasn't crowded up with the ingredients. But if you really want to be a hypochondriac about it, you could argue that raw juices from the food would be constantly seeping into the soup hence rendering it not really "safe" per se if you're afraid of raw food containing bacteria and whatnot. Ok, I digress, let's go back to the rest of the yummy stuff.

Vietnamese fried crispy noodles, this dish was ordered almost purely for amusement factor because we wanted to see how it compared to the typical Chinese crispy noodle (Shang Min or sometimes even called crispy chow mein). Well, to be fair to this variant, it did provide reasonable competition. The noodles were crispy without being hard and did not even have a hint of rancidity so I guess fresh oil was used to fry it. A nice little filler-type dish, although we were almost bursting even before this dish arrived.

Wait a minute, didn't someone mention "bursting"? But yeah, there's always room for dessert and besides dessert is like the fullstop at the end of a sentence, the meal isn't complete without it. But boy were we glad to order this banana with stickyrice and icecream. The banana was layered with glutinuous rice, nuts and redbean in a little sea of coconut milk below three scoops of icecream and more crushed nuts - simply heavenly.

I really enjoyed Binh Minh's food and I actually saw them revising some prices so I'm expecting a price increase soon (hint to everyone to check it out asap to avoid the price increase). If you were observant enough, you'll notice that Binh Minh is one of the few Vietnamese restaurants that actually garnish their foods, hence providing a nice little touch of finesse but I'll come back again just for the taste even if they serve on paper plates.


p.s: They only serve one-dish meals during lunch, so if you want to try what I had, please go during dinner.

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