Have you tried Ben Thanh yet? We did tonight and I think Mississauga residents who are in the Glen Erin and Dundas area should give it a try as well.
Ben Thanh is an asian fusion of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine – a blend of Spoon and Fork and Spring Rolls (without the Spoon and Fork pricing and more upscale and better quality than Spring Rolls).
The exterior of the building is quite attractive which caught my eye immediately and prompt me to want to try out this place. I also got a good vibe as soon as we stepped out of our car.
The interior of the restaurant was modern and classy (and thats where I made the comparison to Spoon and Fork). Dark ambience and straight simple lines. From the outside of the building, I thought the restaurant would be pretty big inside. But as we entered, the design of the interior gave the impression that it was quite small and could only fit a few customers. The hostess brought us through a different section, which opened up the restaurant a bit more. The section was a square room and fit many more customers. The whole restaurant was still smaller than what it seemed from the outside, but ended up being a decent and comfortable size.
This section we sat in was decorated pretty ‘wild’, but at the same time, pretty simple. Just take a look at the photos and you will understand.
The menu presented to us was huge. It was quite exciting to have a large choice of food to choose from, yet overwhelming trying to make a choice. So we settled for an avocado shake and Vietnamese Yellow Lamb Curry on Rice for my daughter. And I chose the special of the day – Chili Salt and Pepper Lobster. (I swear the menu offered this special with crispy noodles… I will explain later).
My daughter received her avocado shake – she enjoyed it overall, but found it a little thick. She likes it a bit icier.
The Vietnamese Lamb Curry was served in a small bowl with lamb and potato pieces. This was presented on a platter with white rice and a plain salad on the side. We thought the lamb was very good and with the sauce drizzled on the rice made for a very tasty meal. The potato was a little on the mushy side but added a good mix to the lamb curry. The sauce was flavoury enough to get that zing of curry, and not overpowering for first-timers who want to try something a bit exotic.
The lobster was about 1.5lbs and presented on a bed of lettuce. I chose to have it cooked Chili Salt and Pepper style. I thought they forgot the noodles (as mentioned on the menu), but I guess I never specified to the waiter at the time of order. No big deal, I just ordered a bowl of white rice to enjoy with the lobster. I thought it was cooked very well – it wasn’t even oily or saucy or messy to eat. I really enjoyed the chili salt and pepper flavour on the lobster (I usually order this style shrimp or chicken wings when we eat out at pho places).
They had a traditional choice of desserts, but we decided to skip it. Next time we will order the fried banana and ice cream.
Service was very, very good. Our waiter was attentive, friendly and polite. He filled up our tea, brought extra napkins and bowl to put the shells in, and checked to see if everything was okay on a regular basis.
The lobster was $20, the lamb curry was $7.95 and avocado shake was $3.95 – not bad, not bad at all. Will be back to try the extensive menu.
Update: June 5th, 2012
I thought I would update my thoughts on Ben Thanh today since I’ve been back here a number of times already. I like this restaurant very much – it is very well priced on par with other pho places in Mississauga, but the decor is much more attractive and modern.
Last night we visited for dinner and had different items from the menu, and everything was all very good.
We ordered avocado milkshake and lychee bubble tea for beverages. They were not too sweet and the bubble tea was delicious with the tapioca cooked just perfectly.
We ordered the Vietnamese spring rolls to start – they were great! Lots of filling and the skin was light and crispy at the same time. I think Ben Thanh’s spring rolls may be in my top two, giving Golden Turtle a run for their money (less greasy than Golden Turtle).
For main meals, my daughter had the Red Curry and Chicken with Rice. She enjoyed the sauce on the rice and left most of the chicken to the side.
I had the Stir Fried Basil Cube Steak (or Cube Beef) on Rice. It was very tasty. They put alot of onions in the dish and I’m not a fan of onions. So I picked those out and ate everything else.
The flavours are not overpowering and are very safe. The red curry is flavourful enough to satisfy the curry urge (!) but subtle enough not to annoy a less adventurous diner. I can guess they are trying to cater to not only the asian community. The only critical aspect that I can contribute about our meals is the small serving of salad is bland without any dressing or sauces. I usually leave that part of my meal uneaten.
Address: Ben Thanh Thai Vietnamese Restaurant – 2661 Dundas St. West, Mississauga, ON