Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thy Thy 1

Despite rumours to the contrary, we have NOT been banned from restaurants in the northern parts of Melbourne; we just haven't been out much. That fabricated tissue of farragoes you may have heard about me losing my temper with a waiter because of a live lobster, the widow at the next table, dirty wine glasses and a rolled-up copy of Guns 'N' Ammo is almost certainly untrue. Nor do I have anything to apologise to Nicole Kidman for. My statement stands, and that's all I'm saying on the matter.

Now we've cleared up that little mess, we've decided to make a bit more of an effort and let other people cook. Today was a test run in order to limber up the blogging muscles, stretch the jaw tendons and give the taste buds a slight sanding and a freshen up. So where better than old favourite (and nowhere near High Street), Thy Thy 1 on Victoria Street in Richmond, in Melbourne's Vietnamese centre.

Reasons to love Victoria Street #7: Vegetables on the street

Thy Thy 1 is about as casual as you can get and although it's always busy, there's never any problem getting a table, although you might be kissing a stranger's elbow (no, that rumour's not true either). You ascend the pink staircase from the street to be greeted by laminex tables, gaudy painting and glowing paper lamps as colourful as a box of crayons after a mouthful of disco biscuits.

The magical staircase is all you can see from the street

Jars of chili, bottles of sauces and vinegars sit in a plastic peg bucket on each table. All very casual and very, very welcoming. Tea comes out and gay, chipper menus are distributed and orders are taken quickly. Food generally arrives within 10 minutes, today even faster.

Chili, sauces etc in a bucket

Although Spring rolls are an easy-cop-out cliche in many South East Asian restaurants, here they are beautiful, petit and come with a table salad to wrap them in. Lettuce, bean shoots and Vietnamese mint, and a nuoc mam cham dipping sauce. Crunchy, light and fragrant... Because we arrived late in the lunch session, we were the last to leave, and got to watch them being rolled at the next table.

We followed this up with fried egg noodles with seafood, which was pretty good, and a curry made with sliced barbecue pork and curry powder, cheered up with fresh herbs.

Neither were fantastic dishes, but they were good and very comforting. Thy Thy 1 is not fine dining, nor is it elegant, neuvo anything. Minimalist decor has been ignored for hallucinogenic colour and easy-to-clean surfaces. If it's a bit hip (and how the fuck would I know?), then it's because it's not trying to be. You get what you expect, as long as you were expecting cheap and cheerful food stripped of all pretension and stuck at the top of a magical staircase in Richmond. There's one or two decent bottle shops within a hundred metres or so, so you can get a bottle of wine at the last moment should you want.

Of course, you also get a walk along Victoria Street. Priceless.

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