Historic Tindale House in James Street Guildford has housed a number of restaurants over the past few years, but none has really made a go of it, until about 18 months ago when Hoang Kim Vietnamese took up residence. This has proven a popular addition to the Guildford eating experience and so it was we went along one night recently.
The main dining room is quite plain, with a counter at the front and tables and chairs in various combinations throughout – there is also an enclosed veranda with more tables down one side, as well as tables and chairs out front adjoining the footpath. In the garden behind the house are a few more spots to dine and a couple of rooms off the main dining hall for private parties and overflow.
At lunch the food on offer is quite limited, concentrating on pho, the popular Vietnamese soup, and a couple of noodle dishes; at night there is much more variety, although strangely pho doesn’t make the evening menu.
Hoang Kim is unlicensed but provides ice buckets and basic wine glasses as required.
When Lady FWO and I fronted up we chose to start with rice paper rolls with prawn, followed up with chilli King prawns, and fried fish with chilli. Steamed rice completed our order.
The two rice paper rolls were of a good size, and came with a mild but zesty dipping sauce – chilli, garlic, fish sauce and lime flavours dominating. The rolls themselves were fresh and full of lettuce, vermicelli and prawns; the prawn flesh sweet with a nice texture, the lettuce crisp and light. A pile of shredded carrot and radish accompanied it and the dipping sauce was a fine companion. These were a very nice start to our meal.
The fried fish was a largish fillet, fried with a crisp exterior, but tender and moist inside; it was topped with fried shallots, garlic and a sprinkle of fresh spring onion. It was a delicately flavoured dish, but with little obvious chilli lift. The dipping sauce had some element of chilli, but overall was a touch lacking in the heat compartment. It was well cooked for all that, just a little lacking as far as our expectations were concerned.
Our prawns also were quite well cooked- they were shelled, and were tender, but with some firm mouth feel. The vegetables – capsicum, lettuce, onion – blended in well with the seafood, but again the lack of chilli was evident. Vietnamese dishes aim for a more delicate spice blend than, say, Thai food, but still a little more zing would have helped. However, it was tasty dish.
Hoang Kim also operates a popular takeaway menu, and a number of customers availed themselves of that while we were there.
It is good suburban Vietnamese, possibly not as authentic as others around the city, but turns out middle of the road Asian food, and has built a sound client base judging from the number of people turning up especially later in the week. Sitting outside in the warmer months is a fine experience.