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Food Place Review: Yen Linh – Chinatown

Food Place Review: Yen Linh – Chinatown

This write-up is part food place review and part public apology. It started at bedtime on Valentine’s Day eve. I headed into the bedroom first, while Teena was going through her bedtime routine. As with most nights I closed the door to the bedroom, while she did her stuff, to drown out some of the noise from the K-Drama she watches during that time. I woke up around midnight only to discover I was missing my wife. Normally when that happens, it’s because I’ve been snoring and she’s opted for the couch. As I turned the door knob and pulled to go out an investigate, I simultaneously broke into a cold sweat, realising that I had locked my wife out of our bedroom…ON FREAKIN’ VALENTINE’S DAY EVE!!! Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

While Teena didn’t make a big fuss about it, the guilt stayed with me throughout the day. While, we normally don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s day (but definitely on our anniversary), on this day I felt compelled to make up for my late-night brain-fade and arranged to meet her for lunch. Come midday, I swung by the florist, picked up a single rose (Yes, last of the big spenders!) and met my (somehow) smiling sweetheart out in front of Kim Wang, our go-to Asian grocer at the Adelaide Central Market.

After wandering around Gouger Street for a little while, we decided on a chic little Vietnamese place called Yen Linh, located at 23 Field Street in the Adelaide Chinatown district. Teena had heard good things about it. From a quick look inside, we noticed a decent crowd. Always a good sign. Behind the front counter, we could see just about everything going on in the kitchen. It was good to see some mature-aged Vietnamese women in the kitchen. It gave me some assurance that there will be some authenticity in the food. I’ve seen way too much east-meets-west food collisions, and it’s made me somewhat weary of swankily decored Asian restaurants. Any such concern dissipated as soon as our order arrived and we dug in.

Teena had the Sugarcane Prawn Vermicelli Salad, which she thoroughly ejoyed and I had the Beef Pho. It was one of the best Pho I’ve had in a restaurant on a number of dimensions.

The Stock

As I hoped, authentic. Lots of depth, not watery. You can tell it’s been developed over the stove for quite some time. Just like good Ramen stock, the flavour sticks around for a little while. Without that, it’s a dish dead in the water, so to speak. This one was very much alive! Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

The Flat Rice Noodle.

It was the freshest,  smoothest, silkiest flat noodle I’ve ever had, with just enough firmness. No hint of sticking together, ‘powderiness’ or breaking up due to overcooking. Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

The Beef Slices.

They were individual slices, not the clumps meat I’ve often experienced. Sure, I’ve been to places where the amount of beef way more, but more often than not, I’d need to peel the slices of beef off piece by piece. The last thing I want to do when I eat at a restaurant is work for my food! Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

Serving Size

In the words of Goldy Locks, “It was just right!” I didn’t feel like a water bed after.  Particularly important if you still have another four to five hours of work time after lunch.

Afterwards, I caught up briefly with the lovely ‘Boss Lady’ and Owner, Mai Luong. Her family arrived around thirty years ago, and like most Vietnamese migrants, have worked their behinds off to build up very successful food businesses. She told me of how the restaurant was named after her two daughters, who now are very actively involved in the business. Yen, previously and accountant, now manages the restaurant. I’m presuming the other daughter’s name is Linh. Their business originally started with their ‘mother ship’ restaurant, also known as Yen Linh, in Croydon. ‘Little’ Yen Linh had only started about 3 years ago. I later found out that Mai’s brother, Nhung, and his wife are the owners of another well-known Vietnamese eating establishment NNQ. It’s in the blood.  Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

Yen Linh offers up a lot more than just Pho, but if it was anything to go by, everything else on their menu ought to be a pretty safe bet. Just to make sure, I returned a couple of days later with some of my colleagues from work and tried their  Combination Dry Rice. It was seriously good. Worthiness status confirmed!

What began as a rather shaky Valentine’s Day got a restart at midday and we never looked back. What did I learn? Firstly, I’ve got a very forgiving wife (I definitely married up!). And lastly, if you need a restart to your day, Yen Linh’s definitely worth a shot.

Until next time…

The guy who locked his wife out of their bedroom. Yeow Family; Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie

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