Thanh Long (meaning green dragon) has been one of the best kept Vietnamese secrets in Sydney—until now that is. My Trinh Phan and her seven brothers and sisters have been serving up unbelievably delicious, authentic Vietnamese cuisine for ten years. Nestled on Crown Street, not far from Cleveland Street in Surry Hills, Thanh Long has happily served locals in-the-know and those lucky enough to stumble upon this little slice of food heaven.
Even Neil Perry has frequented Thanh Long's tables. 'I had a very famous chef here [a photo of Neil Perry and My together is presented], he loved the chicken salad and has come back for the chicken salad with his wife', My shares excitedly.
Well, if it is good enough Neil, it is good enough for me! Upon my last visit to Thanh Long with a group of five friends, the verdict was unanimous . . . the lightly battered and marinated soft-shell crab was up there with the best any of us had tasted (pictured above).
Two other dishes that cannot go by without a mention, are the vegetarian papaya salad and the savoury Vietnamese pancake. The papaya salad has become an obsession of mine; made with green papaya, tofu, tossed carrot, Vietnamese herbs, and sprinkled with peanuts. There is also a non-vegetarian option made with pork and prawn. The savoury Vietnamese pancake has an incredible, honey-like crust filled with mushrooms, mung beans, sprouts, tofu, and is served with a delicious sauce. I am not a vegetarian and the meat version is just as delectable—it is filled with seafood.
A house favourite is the Campfire Beef. My only uses the best tenderloin and the freshest ingredients. The marinated beef comes to the table in a flaming dish, all ready to be wrapped-up in fresh rice paper, along with a basket of salad and herbs. Of late, My has noticed the Campfire Chicken has also been very popular, again only the best cuts of chicken breast are used.
All the dishes cooked at Thanh Long are family recipes passed down by My's mother and father. My's father was a famous chef back in Vietnam with a very successful restaurant. Thirty years ago he bought his wife and seven children to Australia by boat, for a better life. There are no set recipes, My explains, 'you cook by taste, by your instinct and with your heart, it is all free-flowing and so very difficult to teach anyone else'.
That being said, My's advice to anyone cooking Vietnamese is to only use the freshest of ingredients. Every day, My sources fresh produce from the Asian grocers and markets and uses specialty seafood and meat suppliers. 'The suppliers, they don't like me as I pick everything by hand. My son Raymond always asks why I have to take so long but I have to, so it is the best', My laughs.
As I am leaving, My shows me a letter sent by Jay Elko of Syracuse, New York. He and his girlfriend stumbled across Thanh Long while on holiday in Sydney, July 23rd 2010. They were so blown away by their meal at Thanh Long, they tracked down the address to let My know just how wonderful the experience was.
Address: 622 Crown Street, Surry Hills Sydney
Ph: 02 9319 3206
Opening hours: 5:30pm to late Tues- Sat
Bookings taken, all cards except AMEX