Sunday, 3 March 2013

BINH MINH

40 Victoria St, Richmond - Ph: (03) 9421 3802



By way of background, we both live in Richmond towards the eastern end of Victoria St.  Being in the capital for cheap and cheerful (usually) Viet and Chinese food comes quite handy.  I've been coming to Victoria St almost weekly since I was born, but given my parents' 'go with what you know' mantra, we actually haven't been to as many places as I would have liked.

With this in mind, I was looking up urbanspoon to check out the ratings of Victoria St. restaurants and Binh Minh comes out on top.  Over 700 people have voted (so the 80%+ rating seems to be legit) so it must be pretty good right?  Well sort of.


We decided to walk up the other end of Victoria St last night to check it out.  Now almost every restaurant was pumping so patronage is not necessarily an indicator of quality.  Binh Minh was almost full when we arrived at 7:30 but we were seated quickly.


Now I usually check out what people rave about on urbanspoon as a good place to start with the menu.  Consistent comments that the peking duck was great tempted me given the $24 for half a duck 'special' (I assume that the specials board hasn't changed in a while).  Luckily, however, the table next to us ordered it and when it came out, it did not resemble my understanding of how peking duck is put together.  Limp narrow strips of duck (think more like a quarter to a third of a duck instead of half), with crepe like pancakes is not what I'm used to seeing (i'm a peking duck snob so take what I say with a grain of salt).  So happy to dodge a bullet on that one.

While I'm on the menu, I need to mention that Binh Minh falls into one of these very confusing 'Asian' restaurants that serves everything from Pho, Kuay Teow, Randang, Roti, Peking Duck, Sweet and Sour Pork and anything else that loosely fits the 'Asian' description.  I find it hard to believe that a restaurant can execute all these dishes well given the variety of techniques and ingredients required to do it properly and cost effectively, hence I suspect that Binh Minh is more comfortable with the Viet style than others (the peking duck seems to confirm this).

So we ended up ordering the following:

Pork Spring Rolls: proably the best dish of the night.  Nothing amazing, but solid Vietnamese style spring rolls although the sweet and sour sauce was a bit watery and bland
Lemon Chicken: Not much chicken, a LOT of batter.  Sauce was sickly sweet and we didn't finish it

Sweet and Sour Pork: It was decent, although I suspect the sauce was not made from scratch and the batter was not crispy, however for $13.50 the quality was reflected in the price so I was ok with this one
So all in all a disappointment, particularly given high expectations set from it's urbanspoon status.  The staff also rate a mention in that they were quite aggressive.  Understanding the concept of 'can you give us a few minute to read the menu?' seemed quite foreign to them.

In summary, Binh Minh is a standard Victoria St restaurant.  You could do a lot worse, but you could aslo do a lot better.

Binh Minh on Urbanspoon

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