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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Oriental Spirit

One of my best friends and I had polished off a bottle of champagne (a relatively normal Tuesday for us...) and were in dire need of food. It being mid-January, my local pub was still closed for summer holidays, so we headed down to Victoria Street in Richmond and basically chose the first open restaurant we saw (after one we'd already been to). The lucky winner: Oriental Spirit (54 Victoria Street, Richmond).

It had been one of those appalling 35+ degree days, but was starting to cool down, so the front had been opened up, allowing a pleasant airflow and a nice closeness to the passing Vietnamese nannas and friendly local dealers. There was also a non-offensive view of the bank across the road. Score!

I was a little tipsy (surprise, surprise), so can't say that I really noted what sort of cuisine Oriental Spirit offered; I just assumed, like many other restaurants along Victoria Street - and especially because of its vague name - that they served pan-Asian cuisine. A bit of Googling has since revealed it is actually of the Thai persuasion. And, in retrospect, that makes complete sense, as both the noodle dishes we ordered were staples of Thai cuisine: Pad See-Ew and Pad Thai (duh). They were delicious, although I was in a somewhat-drunken stupor of hunger, so cardboard probably would have tasted great to me then. I wasn't able to finish (too full of bubbles, probably) and took the leftovers home - so I am able to report from those that they were indeed delicious!

Beef Pad See-Ew

Chicken Pad Thai

I do recall that the staff were very friendly and smiley - a pleasant change from others I've been to in the area. I also very much enjoyed the menu, with its "tofo", descriptions of prawn crackers but no explanation for Lettuce Delight*, and "Thai hot" being a measure of spiciness:

Prawn crackers clearly described; Crispy "Tofo" on offer

"Thai hot"... God forbid

*While we're on Lettuce Delight -- what's with that?! I knew it as San Choi Bow growing up (or some variation of that), possibly because I always ate it at Chinese restaurants. But wherever I've seen it in Melbourne - admittedly, usually at pan-Asian restaurants - it's called Lettuce Delight. Often it's delightful; I'm not disputing that. It's always encased in lettuce. Only, it seems like a bit of an airy-fairy name rather than authentic. Y'know?! ...Okay, rant over.

Also, and I know this is dorky, but I really liked the cutlery. It was big and heavy and looked kinda like silver bamboo. My friend also liked the serviettes. Can't remember why. (Why?)

I quite liked Oriental Spirit, and if I ever get through the gazillion other restaurants along Victoria Street, I would like to go back. Hell, I'll probably be back there next week, just because of its proximity to both my house and the bottle shop.

Oriental Spirit on Urbanspoon