After a silly day out in the west hanging out with my cousins, we rounded up some more cousins and headed into Canley Heights for Vietnamese.
On a cold winter’s night, we can only think of one thing that can warm our tummies and that’s a serve of Vietnamese fish hotpot, served two ways.
Finding a car spot in Canley Heights is not so easy on a Saturday night, the restaurants are packed and there’s always a wedding with a slow procession of cars double parking and dropping off guests in front of the function place. We eventually find a spot in a dark side street and`walk to Thanh Mai, where there’s a queue. Ms. Taste and Ali P go hunt inside for a table whilst the rest of us wait out in the cold, laughing at the various ‘greased up mullet and thick moustache in front of a starry background’ popstar posters.
After a few minutes, our two table hunters signal for us to venture inside the extremely cramped restaurant. We find them sitting at a tiny table for four – not so ideal for a party of six. So the four of us take seats while the other two wait for chairs, blocking everybody’s path and standing behind everyone’s seats, gawking at their food and causing general awkwardness and discomfort for all. A larger banquet table is soon vacated and we get ordered to move. A family of four quickly shuffle to fill our seats.
The Jellyfish Salad contains shredded paw paw, carrots, pork, prawns and jellyfish topped with peanuts and prawn crackers. The sweet tangy dressing with a chilli gives the dish a real kick. There’s so many great textures in this dish – each mouthful is an exciting balance of crunchy, soft and juicy.
The ever popular Salt and Pepper Squid at Thanh Mai is made with a light batter and fried to a crispy golden. Firm on the outside, chewy squiddy goodness on the inside!
Another Vietnamese favourite, these rice paper rolls are made fresh to order. Filled with fresh herbs, vermicelli and slices of pork and prawns, these rolls are dipped in the Hoisin sauce mixture for added flavour.
The star dish of the night is the Fish Hotpot, served two ways. One half of the fish is sliced and dropped into a simmering pot of soup. The soup is made from pineapple, tamarind and tomato, which offer an interesting mix of sweet, savoury and sour. The water spinach and bean sprouts help soak up the flavour in the soup, warming our hearts with its refreshing flavour.
The second half of the fish goes into the claypot, sitting in a bubbling gravy of caramelised sauce. The fish disappears in an instant and nobody is shy in dipping all the other food into the remaining pot of sauce, desperate not to waste any of its wonderfulness.
The Water Spinach is a victim of coming out after the caramelised fish as most of it gets thrown into the claypot. It’s not that it’s terrible on its own, it’s the sauce! Think of the sauce!
The Black Pepper Beef Cubes are wonderfully tender and tasty too, but a hard act to follow after the Fish Hotpot!
252 Canley Vale Rd
Canley Heights NSW 2166
Phone (02) 9726 6883
Open for lunch and dinner daily