Review: Anh and Chi

As Main Street frequenters, Anh and Chi has never gone unnoticed. It’s hard to miss, not just because it is considerably large and long, but also because it is situated in basically the only bend in the road on the whole of Main Street. It provides us with a point of reference every time we hit the thrift stores. No matter what time of the day I go past, it always seems to have a steady stream of custom.

The online reservation system requires a minimum $10 donation per person, so we thought we would go early and try our chances with a walk in. We had to wait approximately half an hour for a table, but the outdoor heaters blasting us from above made the wait entirely bearable. We were shown into a corner table (my favourite) and settled in.

We had been eyeing up the menu from the outside and had started picking out a few options. To my absolute dismay, the chicken pho was sold out. What is Vietnamese cuisine without a bowl of steaming, aromatic pho in the mix? We couldn’t order the beef, I wasn’t enticed by the tofu and the seafood option just sounded not like at pho at all, so we decided to without.

We ordered crispy spring rolls, the classic chicken vermicelli bowl, the Asian market greens and the pork and prawn crispy pancake. The spring rolls came out first, a basket of fried goodness, halved and accompanied by what looked like an entire mini garden. We soon learnt that the plan for these crispy rolls was to roll them in the greens and then dip them in the chili and fish sauce. They were divine – we were not the slightest bit disappointed to see that the vermicelli bowl was garnished with more crispy spring rolls.

The vermicelli bowl was essentially a deconstructed salad (which I don’t think Any was particularly impressed by), with grilled lemongrass chicken (oozing tenderness), a fried prawn, more garden and those crispy spring rolls. The chili and fish sauce combo was again a highlight – it made even just the plain old noodles taste delicious. This dish arrived at a similar time to the market greens. Without sugar coating it, we were pretty disappointed. The only time I think someone would have been happy with this dish is if they were in a group of about 6 people, where they only needed to have 1/6 of the plate. Instead, two of us were given what felt like 2 whole bags of spinach, with a delicious but poorly distributed XO chili sauce and showing no sign of the promised garlic chips. We ended up having too much food, so we doggy-bagged this one and ended up incorporating it into various meals across the next few days.

The last dish we had was the crispy pancake. This was extremely tasty, but perhaps not as easy to eat as we had hoped. It was another case of wrapping up the crispy deliciousness into lettuce shells and dipping them in sauce. It was yum, but I probably wouldn’t get it again in a sharing situation – it was just a little ugly!

The service was great. especially considering how busy the restaurant was. It was very bustling: I think being tucked away in our corner table was fortunate – the majority of the tables were right next to the main thoroughfare. The drinks menu was great for anyone in the market for cocktails, expensive wine or Asian beer – local craft beer was available, but slim pickings.

While I really enjoyed the taste and the quality of the food, I tend to think of Vietnamese food as being cheap and cheerful (probably massively influenced by the time I spent travelling there). I would never deter anyone from visiting Anh and Chi because the food was well portioned, fresh and delicious, but I definitely believe that there are better value for money places around.

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