3 Carrington Road
BYO? Yes (wine)
Doggie bags? Yes!
So my reviews may seem to be biased towards the CBD and inner suburbs because that’s where I live now, but deep down I’m an outer east girl at heart.
There are several restaurants in Box Hill that everyone knows about. Indochine, Tien Dat, David & Camy, Dumpling King… you’ll find these on the go-to lists for tennis break-up dinners, work lunches, weekend dumpling cravings. There are plenty more restaurants along the Carrington Road/Station Street/Whitehorse Road shopping strip that are probably equally as good and should be explored further by the gweilos.
We were in the mood for a quick girls dinner out on a Sunday night, and as my current obsession is Vietnamese food, Tien Dat was the logical choice. The restaurant has an upstairs, downstairs and outside seating area on Carrington Road, which we were glad we weren’t sitting in on this thunderstormy night. They are so popular now that you nearly always have to book. Service is friendly but frantic.
The menu caters to the stalwarts of the local Rotary club (or whoever) that need to be able to order lemon chicken or honey chicken and sweet and sour pork (all under the title of Batter Dishes on the menu, hah!) when they go out, however they do have slightly more confronting to the Rotarians, and infinitely tastier, Vietnamese dishes on the menu.
By the way, I laughed when I saw that Lipton ice tea was top of the drinks menu.
We weren’t hugely hungry, so between the three of us we shared Hanoi style spring rolls to start, bun bo (rice vermicelli with grilled lemongrass beef and spring rolls) and broken rice with grilled pork chop, fried egg and shredded pork.
Hanoi style spring rolls are made with rice paper wrappers instead of the wheat-based wrappers you get in Chinese restaurants. They are crispy, crunchy, and the dipping sauce has a nice balance of flavours (I would have put a bit more chilli heat in it, but I guess they have to cater to everyone’s taste).
We like the spring rolls so much we have them again in our main dish. They’re crunchy as well (duh). The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: a pleasantly light dish with the refreshing taste of the herbs and dipping sauce a nice counterpoint to the flavour of the lemongrass beef.
Our other dish, the broken rice with pork chop, was harder to share. The pork chop was fairly sinful – I think it might be deep fried! – but juicy and flavoursome. The egg was kind of redundant but also a nice to have. We preferred the noodle dish to this one, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t order it again as a lunch item for one.
On the service, I ordered a three colour drink when I got there (mmm… this has red beans, green jelly, coconut milk and is more dessert than drink) but never got it. Completely forgotten. However, they took it off the bill at the end, and I wasn’t too fussed as I know where to get my fix close by in the city.
Tien Dat is reliable, cheap and there’s a reason it’s made it into The Age Cheap Eats, oh, umpteen times in a row. Service is a bit rushed and forgetful, but they take bookings, the menu caters to all tastes and the restaurant is nicely fitted out for a cheapie. Plus it has a good range of Vietnamese dishes that are pretty authentic and tasty as. Recommend.
Eat and Be Merry For Tomorrow We Die(t) also likes Tien Dat, and rereading their review has just ignited a wish in me to go back and try out the banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake and other dishes).