I can still vividly remember discovering Alfrieda Street in St Albans. Bored with the footy game in which Bennie was participating at a nearby oval, I went for a wander, turned a corner and – bam! – there it was: A whole street and neighbourhood of food and fine folks of which I had been utterly unaware. Since those pre-CTS days, St Albans has become a regular haunt. Now, thanks to sponsorship from the St Albans Business Group (see full disclosure below), I am looking forward to getting to know Alfrieda Street and environs even more intimately. This is the first of a series …
Trang Tien, 11 Alfrieda Street, St Albans. Phone: 9078 1677
Trang Tien can be easy to miss.
It doesn’t front directly on to Alfrieda Street, being angled away as part of a sort-of courtyard it shares with Cafe U And I.
As well, Trang Tien has a somewhat modest shopfront, though it does sport typical photographs of some of the food offer.
Inside, though, is a menu and eatery that offer a wonderful and bewilderingly long range of dishes from all over Vietnam – some of them rarely seen in Melbourne.
Sure, you can get that here – and numerous other Vietnamese staples.
But why would you when there’s a grand opportunity to chance your arm a bit?
Banh canh do bien (S $12 and L $13), for instance (top photograph).
This is fat, slippery udon noodles in a viscous broth (think corn and chicken soup) made with, I’m told, seafood but which the internet tells me can also be pork-based.
The broth is of terrific depth in terms of flavour and nicely peppery.
The seafood component hidden in there comprises nice fish chunks, calamari, a couple of prawns, seafood balls, seafood extender and seafood loaf, with onion slices and other trimmings adding textures of a more strident nature.
This a terrific alternative riff on the more familiar soup noodles we all know so well, be they Vietnamese, Chinese or other.
More prosaic, though also not often seen around Melbourne, is bo bit tet ($15).
More of a breakfast dish, this is your Vietnamese steak and egg – beef steak, fried egg, bread roll, salad.
The roll is crusty and hot and right fine for mopping up the juices and fried onions.
Simple and good, this is.
Beef satay ($8.50) looks, let’s be frank, something of a scraggly mess.
But it works!
The mix of fried, nicely chewy meat, onions slivers, roasted peanuts and sticky sauce is just right and deeply satisfying.
Trang Tien is a gem.
(This post has been sponsored by the St Albans Business Group. However, Consider The Sauce chose and paid for the food involved and the STBG neither sought nor was granted any access or say in the writing of this post.)