One Vietnamese restaurant that has been around for ages is Tra Vinh Vietnamese Chinese Special Noodle House on Brisbane Street in Northbridge. Whilst it is situated away from the busy hotspots of Northbridge, it does seem to be a relatively popular venue with the Asian crowd. The location of Tra Vinh away from the hotspots of Northbridge sometimes helps in finding nearby parking which is a plus.
Upon entering Tra Vinh, the distinct strong smells of soup broth and fish sauce were present in the air. Not uncommon for a Vietnamese restaurant of this type. The tables are simple with cutlery, serviettes, various sauces (including fish sauce), and a thermo flask of free Chinese tea. Again, not uncommon for this type of Vietnamese restaurant.
The menu is a mix of various traditional or modified Vietnamese dishes such as pho (a Vietnamese rice noodle dish), as well as (I have been reliably confirmed by my Vietnamese friends) not so Vietnamese dishes such as the Chinese dishes Tra Vinh Vietnamese Chinese Special Noodle House's name suggests. At the back of the menu is a list of beverages including some otherwise peculiar drinks such as egg soda (which I was told was egg blended into soda water?) and layered drinks such as chendol. Prices for mains were on average $10 and up.
Deep Fried Wontons - $5
This entrée dish consisted of six wontons.
The wontons were deep fried making them crispy, and were filled with a pork based filling. Oddly, the wonton pastry was a bit dark compared to others that I have seen and quite rough looking. Being served with a thick, red, sweet and slightly vinegary sauce these made for a typical deep fried appetiser with a bit of a twist.
Prawn Spring Rolls - $8
This entrée dish consisted of six prawn spring rolls.
The spring rolls were all miniature sized, had a small amount of tightly packed minced prawn meat inside, and the spring roll pastry had been wrapped over a few layers such that it was relatively thick. Given the thickness of the pastry, the outside layer was crispy but the inside layers were a bit doughier.
The spring rolls were served with a Vietnamese fish sauce that was tangy and sweet.
Raw Beef Pho - $10
This dish consisted of a bowl of flat rice noodles in a soup broth, topped with beef, sliced red onion, and spring onion. To accompany the dish raw bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, lemon quarters and chilli were provided. The idea is to put these accompaniments into the dish to your own liking. Additionally, you could add a hoisin sauce (a thick sauce that tastes lightly sweet and savoury) and/or chilli sauce for extra flavour.
Raw Beef Pho with added accompaniments
The beef was cut relatively thickly compared to other beef pho I have had and was served in a clump placed in the bowl of soup. The clump of beef, being raw, had to be broken up for it to lightly cook in the hot soup (and generally the lighter is was cooked, the more tender it was). The beef was adequate, having a pretty average taste and texture compared to some other beef phos I have had in the past.
The soup base was obviously a house made stock, and as a result quite evenly flavoured. Whilst whether someone likes a particular pho stock is up to personal preference, I thought the soup base was quite reasonable for Perth standards.
Egg Noodle Soup with Braised Duck - $11
This dish consisted of flat egg noodles in a soup broth, topped with a duck leg quarter, Chinese mushrooms, a bit of green leafy vegetables, and shredded spring onion and dried garlic.
The duck appeared to have been cooked in a dark soy based sauce giving it a dark colour and soy based flavour. It was cooked completely through to the extent that the duck meat was soft and peeled from the bone quite easily. The soup base also had a strong dark soy flavour and dark soy colour. The use of the dark soy didn’t make it too strong in sodium/salt, but the presence of dark soy was prominent.
Once again with different stock flavours being a personal preference, I wasn’t too convinced with the soy based flavour of this dish.
Sour sop shake - $5
I quite like the taste of sour sop. It has a sweet and slightly tangy taste that is quite refreshing. This shake was a blended iced shake of sour sop that was nicely refreshing – but would have been better in summer and perhaps not after drinking so much soup broth.
In summary, Tra Vinh is a reasonably popular Vietnamese Chinese restaurant offering Vietnamese Chinese food in a typical way – relatively cheap prices, a basic atmosphere, simple and relatively fast service, and an emphasis on food rather than a dining experience.
Points to note: Tra Vinh is a simple Vietnamese Chinese eatery (meaning they offer Vietnamese dishes and Chinese dishes). You generally don’t book and you expect reasonably fast service and a quick meal. BYO.
Go for: Affordable Vietnamese Chinese food in a typical simple Vietnamese restaurant atmosphere.
149 Brisbane Street
NORTHBRIDGE WA 6003
(08) 9228 2788
Daily: 10am to 9pm