Tien Dat, Box Hill

Tien Dat is a Vietnamese restaurant on Carrington Road in Box Hill, close to Station St. I decided to visit this restaurant after a few recommendations from different friends, and was happy with my experiences.

The restaurant is brightly lit with large windows and the interior lighting, though it is a bit cramped for space, and there's not a lot of room to move around. There's seating both upstairs and downstairs; we were seated downstairs so I'm not sure if it's also as cramped upstairs in terms of seating. There's not much decoration on the walls, apart from a few decorated mirrors on one wall and wooden plates along another that lead to the upstairs seating area. There's no music playing in the background, but as it's always quite busy and full of people, it doesn't get too quiet as there always chatter that brings a lively atmosphere to the place. As it does tend to get quite busy, it'll probably be best to book in advance, even if you only go in a small group as we did, with only three people. As with most Asian restaurants, the service is quite efficient, but staff aren't always very friendly. The staff here however were attentive, asking us if we were ready to order, and taking our bowls away quickly when we were done.

Between the three of us, we decided to order a bowl of Pho each ($10.50), and also Hanoi Spring Rolls ($12) to share. Hanoi spring rolls are slightly different to your average spring rolls in that they're made from rice paper as opposed to the normal flour and egg, giving them a bumpy texture that is also thinner. I really enjoyed these spring rolls as the outer layer was really crispy and crunchy, and the use of the thin rice paper made sure the filling on the inside really stood out, and it wasn't too floury. The spring rolls were pork and shrimp ones, served with lettuce, vermicelli and a peanut dipping sauce on the side. The lettuce goes really well with the spring roll and lightens the dish with its freshness, both of which contrast well with the sweet and slightly acidic dipping sauce for a great entree.

The Pho we all ordered was quite similar; both of my friends just got the rare beef one, and I ordered the rare beef and beef ball one. Most of the rare beef plus one other ingredient (such as tripe, brisket, tendon or beef ball) is the same price, so I'd definitely suggest going with both the beef and another ingredient, if you like to have more elements and textures in your pho. As the three of us ordered similar dishes, we were given a large plate with generous portions full of the bean shoots and mint leaves to put into our pho; I personally like to put in a lot of bean shoots as I find the vegetables help balance out the heavier beef flavours, and also adds a crunchy texture to the dish (as do the thin slices of onion and spring onion), adding to the beef and the soft rice noodles.

The rare beef was still slightly pink when it first came, but did keep cooking in the hot broth as we were eating, so pieces by the end did become a bit tough. The beef balls had good elasticity to them, and weren't too chewy to eat. Beef balls are essentially the same as fish balls, except that they are made with beef instead of fish paste. The ratio of meat to noodles was great so you didn't end up too much beef or noodle at the end, and the portion was decent for the pricing. The broth itself was flavoursome but a bit oily, and I found that I had to keep drinking Chinese tea to help wash it down.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience at Tien Dat, but there was nothing particularly wow about the dishes, and it's definitely not the best pho I've had in Melbourne. I've actually been meaning to post about my favourite pho place; will definitely try and get around to it soon :)

Tien Dat on Urbanspoon Website


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