Vietnamese food is a whole new playground of food to me – although I’m from Singapore, I’ve always had so much more exposure to Japanese and Thai food that Vietnamese food has always slipped under the radar for me.
But not anymore! A very lovely invite to Bay Tinh gave me just the perfect reason to visit Marrickville, and learn more about Vietnamese cuisine.
Originally owned by Mr Tinh Tranh, Bay Tinh is so named because Mr Tinh was the sixth child in his family. He arrived in Australia as a refugee from Vietnam, and saved up every penny till he opened up Bay Tinh in 1988. When he decided to retire, he sold the restaurant to Harry Hoang, who’s taken the menu and added his own take on it, still serving the traditional Vietnamese food that Bay Tinh is known for, but also with the inclusion of his family’s recipes.
The entrée selection very conveniently came in entrée and main size options, which meant that we could comfortably sample the food across the menu without being so stuffed that we had to be rolled home.
Some of the entrees come in convenient individual portions, like the Duck Salad – Goi Vit (2 pieces), $12 (pictured above). Pieces of cooked duck is tossed through carrot and radish pickles, dusted with aromatic spices and served with a prawn cracker. While absolutely delicious and light, the pickles seem to be a common theme through the meal – the same combination of pickled vegetables are enjoyed as a condiment to many of the other dishes that we sampled.
We also had the Bo Luc Lac, $14.50 – Tender beef cubes are marinated, and then flash fried and served with a salt, pepper and lemon juice mixture on the side. The beef was aromatic and packed full of flavour, and was beautifully balanced by the carrot and radish pickles that were served on the side.
The Heo Nuong, $8, came out next looking like a Vietnamese Sang Choy Bao. Tender pieces of marinated pork were grilled on a skewer, then served on lettuce leaves, cucumber and rice vermicelli cakes, with hoisin sauce on the side. The peanuts added a lovely texture, and I love the freshness of the whole ensemble.
Banh Xeo, $14.50, is a crispy pancake filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and mung beans. The pancake itself is made out of a rice flour slurry tinted yellow with turmeric, which breaks with a satisfying crunch when you cut into it.
The filling was also very generous, with the entree sized portion easily enough to fill you up as a main. Served with a nuoc cham dressing of fish sauce, vinegar and chilli, it’s the kind of dish that I can see myself enjoying at someone’s mother’s house. For this particular dish, I could see why it might not be for everyone – the mung beans added a slightly floury texture, much like lentils to a dhal, that I enjoyed, but Sam wasn’t quite as crazy about.
On a side tangent, I did like how much thought had gone into the preparation of this dish. Owner Harry explained to be that it had taken him 7 years to get the pancake to where he was happy with – now the rice flour slurry for the pancake is first fermented over a few days in order to add flavour, and improve the texture.
The Banh Khot, $13.50, was creamy and rich, with the rice cakes made from the same fermented rice flour slurry, with the addiction of fragrant coconut cream. Topped with a prawn/paprika mixture, these cakes have a slight ooze when you bite into the centre, and the aroma of coconut assaults your senses when the outer layer of the cakes is first breached.
I can’t go past a papaya salad on a menu without ordering it, and this Goi Tom Thit, $13.80, is the much sweeter and lighter than the Thai versions that I’m used to having. Pieces of poached pork and prawn are tossed through crunchy strips of green papaya and carrot, and topped with a sweet dressing that just lightly lifts the salad. This salad, unadulterated by chillies or the fishiness of dried shrimp, makes me feel healthy just tucking into it.
And finally, the piece de resistance. Ca Kho To, $24.50, is a sweet/salty fish stew that is traditionally part of the home dinner table. Here, owner Harry shares his mother’s recipe, and utilises the oilier salmon instead of the usual river fish. According to Harry, the reason for the swap out is because he can’t get a consistent supply of good river fish in Australia – they can sometimes be muddy in flavour. The fat from the salmon added a fantastic sense of luxury to this dish, and the intense soy based sauce is great on a bowl of steamed rice.
I had a great time at Bay Tinh, and really enjoyed the plush decor and buzzing crowds. It seems to be a favourite amongst the local families in the area, and is conveniently located just off Illawara Road. Bay Tinh provides a great oasis to take a seat and have a nice dinner when you’re all tuckered out from exploring the hidden gems of Marrickville. Bay Tinh is open 7 days for dinner, from 5:30pm.
02 9560 8673
318 Victoria Rd
Marrickville NSW 2204
Insatiable Munchies dined as guests of Bay Tinh and Angela Yalda Public Relations.