Bay Tinh is an old favourite of ours, a restaurant that was introduced to us years ago by my foodie friend Queen Viv. And if you love a good story, the chef who started Bay Tinh arrived in Australia as a penniless refugee from South Vietnam from which had a distinguished career as the chef to the South Vietnam's Prime Minister Khiem Tran. Now retired well past the retirement age, in 2007 he sold the restaurant to another boat person who had previously cooked for him. Since its refurbishment, its lost a little of its homespun charm, it seems more like a serious business where tables are squeezed much closer together and there are men in charcoal shirts and ties overseeing the floor. One good thing however is that whilst some things have changed, the food and the menu hasn't. The old favourites are still on the menu and there doesn't look to be much of a price rise. Phew! We like handovers like this.
There are some items that we just have to order, its the law in our family. These are the Bonfire Prawns $18.50, Crispy Pancake_ Banh Xeo_ $10.50 and the Little Rice Cakes Banh Khot 6 cakes for $7.50. The last two are so popular that we always order two of these so that everyone gets enough. We also order the Prawns wrapped in sugar cane $13, Braised Duck with peas Bach Hac Hau Co $13.50, King Prawn Curry Tom Cari $14.50, Caramelised Fish Ca Kho To _$14.50, Lemongrass beancurd _Dau Hu Xao Xa $9.50 and Fried Rice $9.
Crispy Pancake Banh Xeo $10.50
The crispy pancakes arrive first and they're cut into 4. The outer is crispy like an lacey crispy omelette and its filled with prawns, bean sprouts and pork and is delicious when the fish sauce is spooned over with the pickle accompaniments.
Little Rice Cakes Banh Khot 6 cakes for $7.50
The servings of little rice cakes arrive and as always, they're unfailingly delicious. Made from rice flour they're crispy outside and very hot but we can never resist popping these little treats into our mouth. I had seen these made fresh at the buffet in our hotel in Bangkok once and they were one item that I couldn't help but go back for (repeatedly!).
Prawns wrapped in sugar cane $13
Our prawns on sugarcane arrives, they're two sugarcane sticks around which prawn mince is wrapped. We didn't realise that there were only two pieces but they cut them into smaller pieces and we're instructed to wrap them them in the lettuce leaves along with the salad and the tangy flavoursome peanut sauce. I think I may have just found another must have dish. The prawn meat is juicy and the mint and salad is refreshing against the sauce and half the fun is chewing on the savoury and salty sugarcane where the prawn flavour has absorbed into the cane.
Bonfire Prawns $18.50
Our Bonfire prawns are next. They're cooked on the table and waiting for these babies proves an exercise in patience. We patiently wait and are rewarded with a jumble of juicy king prawns cooked with onion and garlic which we spoon into our rice paper along with the mint and salad and a different but equally as good fishy sauce.
Braised Duck with peas Bach Hac Hau Co $13.50
The rest of our dishes come out in quick succession, the braised duck with peas is unexciting and mostly bereft of duck, with some at the table not getting any duck pieces at all and assuming that its a mixed vegetables dish.
King Prawn Curry Tom Cari $14.50
The King Prawn curry is another matter though, its packed with juicy fat king prawns and a creamy coconut curry sauce. Instantly moreish and a favourite of many at the table. They haven't skimped on the amount of prawns either unlike the duck.
Lemongrass beancurd Dau Hu Xao Xa $9.50
The Lemongrass tofu, which I find I either love or leave depending on who is cooking it, is leave tonight, the tofu dry and the lemongrass flavour almost non existent. When its good, its juicy and heady with lemongrass, when its bad is like eating a cubed kitchen sponge.
Fried Rice $9
The fried rice is good as it has small pieces of Lup Cheong, a chinese sausage, one of my favourite sausages and I'm always happy when I see the specks of this in a dish.
Caramelised Fish Ca Kho To $14.50
The last to arrive is the caramelised fish, a traditional Vietnamese dish, a slice of marinated snapper sits amongst a pool of rich caramel coloured gravy in a hot pot and is bubbling away. We order more rice as a sauce like this needs plenty of plain rice to soak it up. The taste is wonderfully rich and flavoursome with the caramel and salty salmon combining beautifully. Yay, another must have discovered!
We rarely have room for dessert and that's the case tonight. So I must forego my favourite sweetcorn pudding if I am to squeeze past the nearby tables to exit.
318 Victoria Rd
Marrickville, NSW 2204
Tel: +61 (02) 9560 8673
Tue-Sun 5.30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5.30pm-10.30pm
Licensed and BYO
Visa and Mastercard accepted