Thursday, 29 March 2007

The Soup Bowl

I don't think I'm a naturally adventurous person. It would explain why I'm terrified of abseiling and always need to consider a restaurant's menu online before making a booking. When I'm struggling for dining inspiration I always seem to end up with a bowl of pho and a plate of rice paper rolls. I have my favourites at Springvale, Richmond, Footscray and Swanston Street. Well it was time to break the habit and so one Saturday I ventured to Victoria Street, Richmond determined to find a new place to eat and a new order.

Thanh Phong, 240 Victoria Street Richmond bears encouraging signs like a mention in The Age Cheap Eats Guide. At around 2pm on a Saturday the place is packed with large groups of Vietnamese students. The waiters seem to be bringing out a constant stream of steaming soup bowls. The staff are warmer and more helpful than average for the sub $10 per person restaurant market. The menu has all the standards but I avert my eyes from the pho and rice paper rolls and decide to sample something a little different. The Prawn and Pork in Tamarind Noodle Soup ($8) fits the bill perfectly.
My father opts for the Thanh Phong Seafood Rice Noodle Special (also $8) which arrives looking particularly decorative with a crispy garnish. The broth is not as flavourful as pho and I'm disappointed not to get the heavy tamarind hit I was expecting. It's pleasant and disappears quickly enough but I don't imagine the craving for it is likely to hit anytime soon. Sometimes it's nice to try something else just so you can be reassured your standard places are your favourites with good reason!

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