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A Peaceful Flavour Explosion: Thanh Binh Restaurant

I confess: Vietnamese food is my all-time fave. Love the salads, love the tasty spicy meats, love the fresh, flavoursome soups. They’re big, bold flavours that don’t cling to the palate longer than they should. Suffice to say, Vietnamese is a cuisine I could eat every day and die happy.

Way down one end of King Street in Newtown sits Thanh Binh, which translates as “peaceful”. Although it seems difficult to imagine anything on King Street being described as peaceful, sitting by those big airy windows that span the entire width of the restaurant on a warm summer Saturday evening is pretty damn nice. Or dare I say, peaceful?

So, on to the food. The claypot fish is unctuous and exploding with flavour, the whole fried flounder is crispy and yummy, the stuffed calamari is tasty and fun. The highlight for me is, without a doubt, the “roll-your-own” section on the menu. As someone who is usually pretty anti the late-90s “cook your own” style of eating (if I want to make it myself, I’ll stay home, you lazy bastards!), I do make an exception for rice paper rolls at Thanh Binh, especially considering I’m never going to make them as delightfully crispy, lemongrassy and porky. You can get them pre-made of course, but there’s something about fumbling and rolling that just adds to the theatre of the experience. Besides, I want to decide what my noodle to meat to fresh herb ratio is. There’s nothing worse than an overly-noodled, under-herbed roll.

Another can’t-live-without-it dish is the steamboat; a slow, pleasurable meal that begins with succulent meats, seafood and vegies gently poached in a lovely light broth at your table and ends with a big slurp of that now deliciously seasoned soup. So yummy and light!

Having never visited Vietnam I have no clue how authentic the menu is but Thanh Binh does have a sister store in Cabramatta, or, as my family referred to it in the late-80s (and still do if I’m honest), Vietnamatta. It somehow doesn’t quite seem right, does it? Or is that just middle-class quasi-politic-correctness run amok? Whatever. As far as I’m concerned, if it’s in Vietnamatta, it’s got to be good… doesn’t it?

I’m not suggesting it’s faultless – most dishes could zing a little more and sometimes the flavours are a little muddy, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back time and time again. Satisfying without weighing you down, you’ll never walk away feeling like you’ve overdone it. And those tastebud-walloping flavours will never fail to please.

If you wander in early enough you can get away without making a reservation, but if you want to a table for 6 at 8pm on a Saturday night you might want to plan ahead. Two people can be fed and happy on $60, which includes a couple of beers. That’s definitely something to feel peaceful about.

111 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
Phone (02) 9557 1175

Opening Hours:
Tue - Thu: 5.30pm - 10.15pm

Fri: 5.30pm - 11pm

Sat: Noon - 11pm

Sun: Noon - 10pm

BYO Wine Only & Licensed

words: Kristen Hodges


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