*This post has no photos because of a technical glitch with my memory card! If by some miracle I can recover the images I’ll post them. Sorry!*

Isn’t it awkward when your friend raves about a restaurant so you go on their recommendation…and then you don’t like it very much?

Well, a public apology to my Vietnamese friend J, but I didn’t really rate my dinner at Thanh Nga Nine.

Four of us had dinner that one weeknight and shared a myriad of dishes from the vast menu. On J’s recommendation, the restaurant has two ‘must try’ dishes – a slow cooked pork casserole dish and the mini-pancakes. The former dish was redolent of the classic Chinese stir-fry of beef with black pepper, so it paired perfectly with steamed rice but didn’t really excite my tastebuds with new, interesting, Vietnamese flavours. The latter dish was definitely worthy of mention, being crispy rice flour bowls cupping a mixture of shrimp, sweet mung bean paste and a crumble of dried prawn. Be sure to spoon it liberally with the accompanying coconut cream and fish sauce.

Other dishes we tried included the banh xeo, which was neither the worst or the best we’d eaten and an excellent crunchy and tangy Vietnamese chicken coleslaw. The worst dish was a mess of a san choy bao with lettuce cups weighed down by two large ladles of mushy, gluey minced pork (that’ll teach us to order a Chinese dish in a Vietnamese restaurant). My three colour drink, a favourite drink of mine whenever I visit a Vietnamese restaurant, was also disappointing – a watery concoction, high on thin coconut milk and low on the scoopable fun of the beans or other curious jelly-like ingredients.

Basically, we found the food at Thanh Nga Nine a bit hit and miss. The decor was pleasant and service friendlier than your usual Victoria Street eatery. But would I go back again? Probably not, except maybe to try the pho (another dish recommended by J) which we didn’t order for dinner as it was too difficult to share.

For a more positive review (and photos), check out The Age and Where’s the Beef, Melbourne Gastronome and Green Gourmet Giraffe.
Thanh Nga Nine on Urbanspoon