Sunday, 18 October 2009

Tinh Tam Chay Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant, St Albans

ETA 30/05/2010: rumour is that this restaurant is no longer veg-only, and that the chef is selling up and will be opening up and trying again later in the year, in St Kilda or Brighton.

Last night I braved the cold with intrepid diners Kristy, Toby, Craig, Cindy, and Michael to venture out to St Albans to try a new Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant.

It was easy to find, with its giant green sign. We ventured in past the churro fryer (we think they coshare) to an empty restaurant. We hoped that the emptiness was more due to its newness (two and a half months) than any sort of problems with their food, and given how full it seemed to get later, and the quality of our dinner, I'm willing to believe it was the former.

Although originally there were some plans to share, the discovery of wonton noodle soup on the menu meant that I leapt upon that, and most of the other dishes came with rice, so we decided to share some entrees and order individual mains.

rice paper rolls and spring rolls

We started with a serve of spring rolls and a serve of rice paper rolls. The spring rolls were crispy and fresh. The rice paper rolls were also fresh, but a bit too coriander-y for me.

I didn't get a photo of everyone's meals (my photo of the dish that Toby and Craig both ordered was blurry, and I decided Michael was too far away down the far end of the table), alas! However Michael has a review of his dish (and others) up, so you can read all about it.

mock ginger chicken rice with bok choy

I both got a photo of Kristy's meal, and got to try some of that mock chicken. It was delicious! And the rice was flavoured just right, cooked in ginger, sweet soy sauce and a little bit of stock. The mock chicken had a beautiful ginger flavour to it, too. This was a great dish, I would love to order this for my own. Michael's meal was served in a similar style, rice with some bok choy, but he had lemongrass tofu (which I did not sample).

mock pulled pork with noodles

Cindy ordered a pulled pork with noodles. This came out as a dry noodle dish, which I think was accompanied by a sauce (but I may have to be corrected on that). Everyone said it was tasty, but I declined, as I was waiting to try my noodles.

wonton noodle soup

They were delicious. The flavour of the soup was just right, a light stock with ginger undertones. The beancurd skin was crispy to start with and soaked up the broth, and the wontons were my preferred proportion of wonton skin to filling. This came with a plate of raw beanshoots, which I threw in immediately so they softened slightly. There were just enough noodles hidden under there to make this meal just the right size for me. I sipped the broth almost to the end, up until I cast it aside for my jackfruit smoothie.

Alas, no picture of my jackfruit smoothie, as I was too busy scooping it out of the cup. The jackfruit had been frozen, but retained enough of that jackfruit flavour to make it a delight. It was awesome, and at $3.00, totally worth it.

The whole menu is quite cheap, at about $8.50 for a main, $6.00 for the entrees, and $3.00 for the dessert smoothies. Although St Albans is a bit further afield than I would usually go, for a good wonton noodle soup I'm willing to travel the distance.

They also have congee and yao chao guai on the menu, so you better believe I'll be returning to try that out.

I feel I should note the entertainment in the restaurant. In the corner is a television with a variety of shows, but it does seem to be primarily consisting of using gruesome animal death to convince you to become vegetarian. I found this very easy to ignore, but Craig suffered somewhat. Don't let it put you off from visiting!

Tinh Tam Chay Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant
13 Alfrieda Street
St Albans


s-j said...

Steph - there is no such thing as too much coriander.


K said...

I'm definitely going back, so cheap and filling and yummy! Next time I might order the lemongrass tofu or Cindy's 'pork' and noodle dish. Although I really did love my dish.

steph said...

s-j: LIES

kristy your dish was delicious! I want to give that one a go next time!

s-j said...

Yeah, whatever. You know I'm right but you are just afraid to admit it.

I am very tempted by the noodle soup and Kristy's mock chicken. YUM.

Vicki said...

I love vietnamese food so am very keen to check it out - sounds great. But what is with the tv? Surely if you are eating in a vego restaurant then you don't really need to see that??

Susan said...

This all looks amazing! I love reading about your restaurant adventures.

Tevere said...

Will totally try! I, too, am willing to venture far afield for an excellent wonton noodle soup. Especially since the vegetarian ones are few and far between.

Jackfruit is the king of fruits (I refuse to acknowledge durian). Have you tried the Indonesian savoury dish -- jackfruit cooked in a rendang-style gravy? Traditionally served around Idul Fitri, but I've had it at other times of year, too. It's delicious, in a tastes-freakishly-like-meat sort of way. The first time I tried it, I could have sworn it was goat. I had to ask twice for clarification... (Mock meat not really my thing, though again will make exceptions for wonton noodle soup.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, all that sounds soooo delicious, and meat-free too!
I agree that animal cruelty is hard to watch while you're eating, but at home, if you're not vegan yet, it's worth trying to watch the Stop Animal Cruelty show on - it will touch your soul and can change your lives for the better.
Peace & blessings said...

That all looks seriously amazing, I only wish it was closer to me!!

Anonymous said...

wish i could have gone. this place sounds a lot like au lac in canberra, but so much closer!

Theresa said...

This sounds great! I'm with s-j though, there can't possibly be too much coriander.

Johanna GGG said...

vegetarian noodle soups excite me but the faux meat and tv sounds a bit much - but I would go there just to try the soup!

steph said...

Tevere, I haven't had jackfruit cooked that way, but I bet it's amaaaazing. I would love to try that.

steph said...

Hi be-vegan, thanks for the link but as you might have guessed from the name of my blog, I am already vegan. I was just wondering why a vegetarian restaurant would play that all the time - surely most people going to the restaurant are already at least vegetarian, and meat eaters are just going to be turned off and go somewhere they can eat meat and hide from the truth. :o(

steph said..., it was awesome! but surely there are many delicious restaurants near you?

Philippa, I am sure that there will be more excursions out there, and that you will be free for one of them!

Johanna, the wontons were tvp rather than mock meat, so my meal was actually mock-meat-free. :o) As was Michael's lemongrass tofu. So there are options there!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Hey guys the owner actually operates the churros business as well, he said it took him ages to perfect the recipe (the Churro franchise charged too much). But unfortunately I just heard that they could be closing soon because they don't have enough customers :( :( :(


steph said...

noooo they can't close, we only just found them!