On Friday evening, we went to South Fremantle to attend the opening night of a friend’s art exhibition, and after that, took a walk along South Terrace in search of somewhere to have dinner.
We ended up at Song Tam Vietnamese Restaurant, at 209 South Terrace in South Fremantle.
I was a little worried initially upon our arrival when we asked for a table for two, telling the guy at the front desk that we hadn’t booked – he frowned and studied his bookings most intently for a couple of minutes, muttering under his breath and scribbling frantic notes. Luckily as it turned out, there was room for us! The dining room was almost full and smelled most appetising. We were given menus and water as soon as we were seated, a very good start! We decided to have steamed rice for two and a vegetable dish, and we each chose another dish.
Jac’s choice was No.40 – stuffed squid filled with minced pork, crab meat, shrimps and onion, served with a plum dipping sauce (AU$12.70). The dish arrived quite soon after we ordered, and we wasted no time and dug with our chopsticks. The golden fried balls of squid were really tasty. I found the savoury filling flavoursome enough and didn’t actually need much of the plum sauce. This would be great cocktail party food, though you could easily end up filling up on these rather than the cocktails. :)
I chose No.18 – chicken braised with ginger (AU$12.40). I love chicken cooked with ginger, and chomped happily on the large pieces of ginger in the dish. The dish was heavy on garlic as well and so I was very happy. Jac, on the other hand, enjoyed the tenderness of the chicken but mistook a large slice of ginger for garlic, finding out the hard (or was it hot?) way. There really was a serious amount of garlic in this dish, as you can see in the photo below. Those little beady things – all garlic!
Our vegetable dish was No.55 – bean curd braised with mushrooms, baby corn and vegetables (AU$10.00). There were about six pieces of bean curd in the dish, but I was very disappointed with how little mushroom and baby corn was included. The shrivelled slices of mushroom would not have equaled one whole mushroom, and the baby corn appeared to be one baby corn spear (yes, ONE!) cut into three. Actually, we were missing the pointy-tipped end piece – yes, I admit it. I searched for it! So it wasn’t even a whole baby corn spear. Seriously, though, how much corn and mushroom can you see in the photo? You’d probably locate Wally quicker in there than you’d find a mushroom. Jac thought the dish tasted a little of dirty burnt wok. I didn’t find the flav0ur of the dish to be a problem, which either means I didn’t think it had the flavour of a dirty burnt wok… or that I like the flavour of a dirty burnt wok. Hah.
I was tempted to have dessert as well, of banana fritters with vanilla ice cream and coconut milk, but we’d polished off the main dishes and I was very full indeed. I also beginning to droop at the edges (I stress, metaphorically!) and was ready to head home for a cuppa and bed.
Song Tam Vietnamese Restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday 5pm to 10pm, and Sundays 5pm to 9pm. The presentation of the dishes was simple and homestyle – evidently straight from wok to plate, no fiddling about with garnishes, which is fine by me. While I thought the food was pretty tasty, it’s funny how something apparently as insignificant and miniscule (yes, puns intended) as the amount of mushroom and baby corn in a supposed “mushroom and baby corn” dish can put a person off, but in this case, that’s exactly what it did. I guess it gave me an impression of a place that skimps on its ingredients. This may not be true in all or most of the dishes though, and that stuffed squid was a winner – so I think I’d be willing to give Song Tam another go sometime in the future, before making my mind up.