Vietnamese food is good food. I've been a fan of this cuisine for a long time now. Their Pho, spring rolls, rice bowls, Banh Mi and coffee are my favorites. I love how they incorporate fresh ingredients, lots of veggies and distinct flavors into their dishes.
|Tra Vinh, Banawe|
When you think that authentic Vietnamese food can only come from Vietnam, think again. There is this one restaurant from Western Australia, particularly Perth, that was founded 20 years ago by a Vietnamese - Van Chien Ho. He offered authentic Vietnamese flavor that instantly captured the Aurstalian Market. He has numerous branches in Australia and has finally opened it's first ever branch in Asia through Michael Ang.
|A look inside the restaurant|
Met Mike during this visit and he shared how he was captured by the flavors presented by Tra Vinh when he was in Australia. It became one of his favorite restaurants and that's how he decided to bring it here in the Philippines. Mike is serious about his business. He is very particular with the ingredients, importing about 90%. He goes to the market very early every single day to source out the best and the freshest produce. He's very hands on and knows what's in each dish, how to prepare and what flavor profile to expect. He was so generous with the group and prepared a feast!
Let me drill down the dishes we tried ---
Entrées: Fresh Spring Rolls, Fried Spring Rolls, Pomelo and Mango Salad, Vietnamese Pancake
|Fresh Special Spring Roll | Goi Cuon Tom Thit for 180Php|
Fresh and crisp greens, carrots, celery with rice vermicelli, prawns and pork wrapped in rice paper, served with Tra Vinh's peanut sauce.
|Closer look at the Fresh Spring Roll|
Burst of freshness in every bite! I liked that each slice had a generous serving of prawns.
|Fried Prawn Spring Roll | Cha Gio Tom for 160Php|
Rice paper rolls filled with prawn stuffing, deep fried to golden brown crisp, this was served with Tra Vinh's special sauce. The roll itself was a little bland for me, didn't really have a strong prawn flavor but dipping it into the sauce will do the trick.
|Fried Pork Spring Rolls | Cha Gio Thit for 160Php|
Filled with tasty pork and veggies, wrapped in rice paper and deep fried, I liked these more! Best dipped into their special sauce as well.
A hefty salad bowl with fresh veggies, lots of celery, fresh pomelo chunks, peanuts, juicy shrimps dressed with Tra Vinh's special sauce. I loved the medley of all things fresh with some sweet notes from the juicy pomelo.
This one's the same as the Pomelo Salad above but with thinly sliced mangoes instead. I loved the sourness of the mango strips that went well with the fresh chopped veggies and the generous serving of shrimps.
|Vietnamese Pancake | Banh Xeo for 250Php|
It was my first time to encounter this so I was more than giddy to try it. The pancake was like a huge omelette that had some veggies, shrimp and pork. It was served with some iceberg lettuce, mustard leaves, herbs and Tra Vinh's special sauce.
They'll slice it up for you and you have to wrap the pancake into a leaf, drizzle with sauce and roll it up! Loved the crispiness from the pancakes and the nice crunch from the leaf.
Special Vietnamese Soup, Shabu-Shabu Style: Fish Soup and Special Tra Vinh Soup
A traditional sweet and sour fish soup served with lots of veggies, herbs and spices. You can opt for rice or noodles to go with this soup.
They used Lapu-lapu for the fish. This soup was really good! It was tasty and reminded me so much of Sinigang.
A seafood and chicken broth with lots of ingredients - pork slices, fresh prawns, squid, fish balls, liver slices, mushroom, quail eggs and veggies - you can pair this up with noodles or rice.
Noodles Soups: Beef Combination, Tra Vinh Special, Spicy Combination, Braised Duck and Crab and Seafood
|Combination Beef Noddle Soup | Pho Dac Biet - (S) for 180Php, (Reg) for 230Php (Lrg) for 299Php|
This is the most common Pho that I know of. I love the version of Pho Hoa that's why I was so excited to try this out. The beef broth was really tasty and according to Mike, this was made with 16 traditional herbs and spices. This was topped with locally sourced beef shoulder slices that have been cooked as well as raw slices of New Zealand rib-eye. They've also included some beef balls that were so tasty! Then there was ox-tripe and glass noodles too. Gah so much good stuff in this bowl!
This noodle soup had thin egg noodles in a chicken and sea food broth. It also had pork loin slices, shrimps, squid, fish balls, pork liver slices, quail eggs and veggies. Soup had a light finish with subtle seafood flavors.
Aside from the Beef Combination Noodle Soup, this one's included in my must try list. I liked the thick egg noodles in a tasty broth made better with the kick of chili.
According to Mike, the soup is a combination of 3 different kinds of meat with 14 traditional herbs and spices.
Duck soup served with rice vermicelli noodles, a quarter piece of braised duck, mushroom slices, veggies and fresh garden herbs. This soup reminded me so much of braised beef noodle soup - that signature broth and saltiness.
A new item in their menu, this one has the consistency of a corn and crab soup. Thick, rich in crab flavor, according to Mike they use real crab meat for the soup. The bowl also had squid and shrimps. This came with Udon noodles.
We also got to try one dry noodle bowl - BBQ Pork Noodle. I loved the tender and well marinated pork strips. The bowl also came in with fried spring rolls, pickled and fresh veggies, roasted peanuts on a bed of rice vermicelli. Drizzle generously with Tra Vinh's special dressing and you're good to go! Guessing this bowl will also deliver with steamed white rice.
As if the dishes served were not yet enough, Mike also had us try the following mains --
Not too much fuss here though - it was just a well seasoned fish that was deep fired to golden brown perfection giving it a nice crunch from the outside with a soft and tasty fish meat inside.
I love the salt and pepper seasoning and the succulent and juicy prawns.
This could have been better if they have already peeled the shell of the shrimps.
Well marinated and tender pork chop served with rice, fried egg and the star of this plate - chicken, pork and crab meat loaf slice that's home made.
A feast is never complete without desserts and Tra Vinh showered us with lots!
This coffee jelly is like no other. The jelly was made with Vietnamese coffee and it was smooth, with right proportion of milk and coffee, not too sweet and really good!
|A closer look at this yummy dessert!|
Topped with their homemade coffee ice cream, this dessert will surely delight the coffee lover in you!
We also got to try four out of six of their Vietname Halo-Halo. Ice was finer than most halo-halo, ample milk was added and overall they weren't too sweet.
This came in with a side serving of Durian. It was my first time ever to try this fruit and I must say that it was not bad at all. Mix it into the halo-halo and errrr... not a good idea though.
We tried the following beverages --
|Home Brewed Vietnamese Iced Tea for 45Php per glass | 65Php for 1L|
Such a refreshing drink! This isn't your usual bitter and brownish in color tea. Tra Vinh used imported lotus leaves that have been brewed and mixed this with freshly squeezed lemon and sugar.
One of the best that I have tried in the Metro! They have three options for this - light, medium and strong. Mike explained that if you want a full flavored coffee with just the right milk and sweetness, go for the light. Medium will give you a balanced flavor which means lesser coffee profile. Strong will leave you with an almost burnt taste, losing the flavor profile of the coffee. I went with light and loved it!
Mike was such a generous host and we honestly enjoyed our visit. I was in fact beyond full! The restaurant lived up to the promise of Authentic Vietnamese Noodles using only the best and freshest ingredients! No wonder the place was full on a weekday lunch!
4 out of 5 Stars for Tra Vinh!
--- Tra Vinh: Unit 3, 109 NS Amoranto Corner Cordillera Barangay, Maharlika, Banawe, Quezon City