Thiên Ân, Footscray
February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
When I first moved to North Melbourne and realised Footscray is only two trains stations or a short drive away, we would try a different Footscray restaurant almost every week. But as with all things, we eventually settled on a couple of favourites. One is the much talked-about Hung Vuong for phở dặc biệt (the phở with all the bits). The other is Thiên Ân, which I might never have gone to if it wasn’t for a review from Footscray Food Blog.
I would never have gone because, as Lauren points out, Thiên Ân doesn’t have the usual cues for a good Vietnamese restaurant. It’s kind of fancy looking. It’s bright and light and they’ve even put a bird on it! For a while it had some kind of modern chandelier. There are couches in the window. It does not give off a good-food vibe.
And yet. The bánh xèo tôm thit (Vietnamese pancake with pork and prawn) we get there are the best we’ve found, outside of a Vietnamese family home. An enormous yellow “pancake” with crisp edges comes filled with fat prawns and thin slices of pork, beanshoots, onion, spring onion and corn. It’s amazing and, wrapped in mustard leaves and herbs and dipped in nước mắm pha (mixed fish sauce), it’s one of the better hangover cures, and costs about $13 after a recent price increase.
They also serve excellent Vietnamese iced coffee, with the added novelty of the hot coffee and sweetened condensed milk served unmixed, with a seperate glass of ice to pour it into, allowing you to have some sneaky coffee-mingled sweetened condensed milk from the spoon, before you turn it into a drink.
We always get the bánh xèo to share for a (very) late breakfast, but the broken rice with pork, the ribs, and their popular tomato rice dishes are all worth a go. I’d also love to try their desserts but Olympic Doughnuts across the road is too good to skip.
32 Irving Street
03 9687 0398
Open daily 11 a.m. till 9 p.m.