Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tran Tran

Location:74 Victoria St Richmond, 3121
Phone: 03 9429 6147
Time: Dinner Time
Cuisine Type:Vietnamese
Price: Cheap, around $8-15

What got dished out:

The prawn and pork rice paper rolls were ultimately nothing special. What makes good rice paper rolls is actually the dipping sauce, bad dipping sauce means it just ruins the entire experience.
The dipping sauce used here was missing peanuts and more or less tasted like it came straight from the Hoi Sin sauce bottle. (yes, that what you use to make it, but you're supposed to add water, oil and peanuts. Some people use peanut butter because it's easier plus it gives a bit of texture).
Like the lettuce served with the spring rolls, these types of rice paper rolls although widely served in all Vietnamese eateries isn't really the standard rice paper roll that Vietnamese people eat. The paper used is the same one, but the filling.. well it varies. Actually you can use whatever filling you want, egg, seafood, beef etc etc. Somehow it became standardized as "prawn and pork"rice paper rolls, I'm guessing it's to suit Western tastes. Rarely do Vietnamese people even bother ordering this either.
Seriously for $5.00, I can make a lot more than what's pictured! (actually I can't remember how much these costs)

A good Vietnamese restaurant should be able to make this dish with ease. Unfortunately was done quite poorly. What makes a good "Salt and pepper squid dish" you make ask? For starters the batter has to be light, this was heavily saturated in oil. Actually it was over cooked which made the squid very chewy. It was also flavourless. I understand the whole concept of "blanding" food to cater for western culture but this goes beyond that. This was neither salty nor spicy and you didn't need to have a western palate to realise this.

This is one of my most favourite dishes but rarely is it done well. Places that know how to cook this properly are also the ones that I'd be going back to on a frequent basis because if they can master this dish properly everything else on the menu is a shoe-in. Sadly, Tran Tran's rendition of this was so poorly done that I regretted ordering this.

Personally I think my camera has done this dish a little more justice because it actually looks a lot better here then it did sitting on our table (although the food isn't nicely presented) however in real life, the dish came out more PINK.
We ordered Chicken cooked in Mongolian sauce.
When the dish came out, I thought "omg, you got to be kidding me, why is it so pink?" In fact it was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it. (the colour pink of course).

I appreciated that there were hardly any vegetables with it because I'm not a big fan of broccoli/peas/carrots etc etc in any of my dishes but I also know that just having meat makes the dish tiring to eat.
The Mongolian sauce wasn't anything spectacular, it didn't sing out to me. The chicken was well cooked, not too dry and frankly if it were raw I'd run out screaming in fear (jk)
The other thing that bothers me is... what on earth is a Vietnamese restaurant doing serving anything with Mongolian sauce? It's not even a Vietnamese dish... it's just wrong and weird.

I didn't have any of the fried ice-cream unfortunately as I was too busy devouring the Banana Fritter.
As much as I love banana fritter, that aren't many places that can do them well. I only know of 2. 1 of which costs an arm and a leg to get(Flower Drum) and another unattainable (ex bf's parents restaurant).
The batter has to be light not heavy and thick (which happens to be the case here).

I was a tad confused when they asked me what topping I wanted for my fritter. I was like "what do you mean", apparently you get the choice of strawberry, chocolate and caramel. The first two choices seem strange, personally I've only had caramel or honey, not chocolate and strawberry.

My thoughts:

The thing with Tran Tran is that it's different from all the other Vietnamese restaurants lined up on Voctria Street, they all serve pretty much the same food, the service is quite bland (actually the service is quite shocking, after they left us with the menus the waiters neglected to come back to ask for our order, we waited around, and eventually we had to raise our hand to ask for service)

Tran Tran has had a new fitout, feels less greasy, cleaner and more modernized. Which is a good and bad thing. It's great being able to sit in a restaurant and not feel the need to clean the cutlery before use again.
I like modern, don't get me wrong. But there are some things that seem a tad odd with the modernization. For starters the menu is only in ENGLISH. Tran Tran is still situated in an area where a lot of Vietnamese people go about their shopping, sometimes they eat out too. Many people who do the shopping on Victoria street don't speak English nor read it for that matter. Which means one thing, Tran Tran is solely only catering for the Western market. But even Western people know that if you go to an Asian restaurant and there are Asians (particularly the same kind that the food are from) then the place must be a winner, however a place with hardly any Asian people must mean it's a crappy place. Especially if it's a reasonably priced restaurant.

On the night that we went, there were hardly any Asian people in fact, most Westerners. Of course you could tell that the cooking was made towards a Western palate but eventually Westerners clock on that there's something quite wrong with something like pink mongolian beef when everywhere else is a bit brownish/red.

I'm still surprised at what seems like this particular restaurant shunning out the community that helped them become what they are today. I hope for their sake that they improve their cooking because pretty layouts only go so far with patrons. Lackluster service and mediocre servings of food will surely turn out to be a bad investment for the owners.

Personally, with so many different options on Victoria Street I wouldn't be coming back, not for a long time, unless of course one of my Western friends stupidly made a booking there. Then perhaps I'd consider in going, or just end the friendship

I was going through my collection of photos that I had taken on the day that I had visited Tran Tran and the biggest crime that i committed (to myself of course) was not adding this photo and commenting about it. You're probably wondering why there's a picture of rice on a plate.
That was the same question that my friend and I had asked when they served us the plate of rice to us.

Most restaurants give you either a bowl of rice and when you've finished they re-fill and charge you more OR give you a container of rice for you to serve. Never on a plate. I guess there isn't anything wrong with doing it like this... actually there is...

They gave us a LOT of rice, and it didn't fill our two bowls which meant most of the rice sat on our table and got cold. Which is never a nice thing. I don't understand why they don't put these in containers (too cheap to supply or perhaps gone broke after the renovations) or too lazy to get their waiters to refill it for us as we ate.

Tran Tran on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Food Expert,
I have read your blog many times and have really taken your advice on board, however after reading this review of Tran Tran I have lost all complete respect for you and your blog. Tran Tran Restaurant has been an ongoing favourite restaurant for many Australians over the past 20 years, including myself, my family and friends. I have eaten at every restaurant on that street and always come back to this wonderful restaurant. Not only is the food beautiful, the services is by far the best on Victoria Street. The owners provide the extra warmth to the environment and welcome everyone with open arms. Your comments only prove how uneducated you are about the food industry but more so about life itself. You have lost me as a follower.

Anonymous said...

You, Miss Food Critic, are a prawn head.

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