As far as eating out is concerned, I have always been an advocate of a restaurant’s specialties. When it comes to fast food and cheap eats, this notion is even more prevalent if you’re looking for a ‘good meal’.
KFC’s Zinger burgers and wraps are designed to compete head-on with the likes of the Big Mac and kebab fastfood chains. Chicken McNuggets is McDonald’s obvious response to KFC. And throughout my entire sporadic fast food life, I am still a proud McDonalds’ chicken and KFC hamburger virgin.
Cabramatta’s Vietnamese stalwart Tan Viet is renown for its crispy skin chicken and when they opened an outlet in Eastwood, friends strongly recommended nothing but the chicken for obvious reasons.
The Eastwood branch is spanking new and no more than a small and cosy thirty-seater.
Pay attention folks.
When the front page of a restaurant menu is screaming out “CRISPY CHICKEN” and its logo embracing the same feathered bird, I think it’s giving a subtle hint as to what you should be ordering.
Like most casual Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, each table has a tray of soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin, chilli sauce and fresh red chillies at your disposal.
Tan Viet does not charge corkage for BYO wine and this is one of the best things about your cheap and cheerful neighbourhood restaurant.
A quick glance around and it seems like Thelonious and I are the only ones with a bottle of wine in this restaurant. I would normally prefer a cold beer with fried chicken but a 2011 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz works well for my palate. Hints of spice and black pepper are complemented by a soft, velvety mouth-feel. It’s the kind of everyday wine for salt and pepper pork ribs or calamari straight from the deep fryer.
Who cares about drinking out of a water glass when this quaffing wine is so worth the $16 that it currently retails for.
Thelonious orders a com tam suon nuong which is essentially Vietnamese broken rice topped with a fried egg. A piece of deep fried pork chop and a small meatloaf that resembles a slice of dried out terrine is about the only excitement I see on this plate.
“How’s your dish?” I ask him.
“Errrr, not very good” he declares while chewing on that piece of pork.
So I hereby rest my case about ordering a restaurant’s specialty.
Tan Viet Crispy Chicken
This is what I came here for ~ a plate of golden, honey-coloured crispy skin chicken Maryland chopped up into half a dozen pieces.
The skin is crisp and paper thin.
While the meat is still piping hot, I see chicken juices oozing out. I like to savour the crispy skin first, then dunk the meat into some light soy sauce and fresh red chillies.
Readers, this is it right here ~ arguably Sydney and possibly Australia’s best crispy skin chicken. It is comparable to some of the best crispy skin chicken I have had at leading Chinese restaurants in town.
At Tan Viet, your order of crispy chicken is also accompanied by a selection of noodles whether soup or dry-style. I choose broad egg noodles that come with fresh garlic chives, iceberg lettuce and garnished with coriander sprigs and crispy deep-fried garlic.
Unlike the menu of other popular Vietnamese restaurants, Tan Viet’s menu is short but hits the mark with popular favourites.
Tan Viet has since added pho onto their menu which I have sampled. The pho pales in comparison to some of Sydney’s best but then again, that is also not their specialty dish.
So tell me dear readers, do you prefer to walk the road less traveled and order something different at a restaurant rather than ordering their specialties?
209 Rowe street
Eastwood, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9858 5167
Opening hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days