Wendy's Review ‹ Back to Talisman
As someone who eats out almost daily, I don’t go to Talisman as often as I would like, but only because Karen is a little out of my way. Needless to say, the experience is always memorable and I love the ambiance created by the art and quirky lanterns on the walls, the soft and unintrusive music, as well as the spacious outdoor seating by the garden. As a foodie, when you hear that Talisman is running a Vietnamese Week, it doesn’t matter how far it seems- you just go. I therefore found myself poring over the menu at the restaurant last Saturday, my friend indulging in a strawberry mojito while I settled for a hot toddy to soothe my cold. There was a full house, and at least three tables had someone celebrating their birthday that night.
Our starters arrived just in time, and first up was a crispy and mildly peppery salt and pepper squid that came with sweet chilli and black squid ink mayo. I was quite fascinated by the colour and texture of latter, and spent about 10 minutes asking Chef Ray about it. This was followed by Goi Ga, a chicken salad with nam jim and cashew shredded cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, holy basil, mint and a welcoming flavour added by avocado.
When you go out for Vietnamese food, especially for first time, it is almost a crime not to try pho given its popularity. Ours got to the table in a bowl with thin rice noodles, mint, holy basil, sprouts, thin slices of beef, hoisin, sriracha for an extra kick and nuoc cham. It came with a side of piping hot beef stock which I added to the bowl, mixed up the ingredients using chopsticks and the soup was good to go. Thing is, and I hate to say this, I just can’t seem to relish in the flavour and texture of pho (the only other item on my list is tofu)! This was my third time trying it, but I still couldn’t seem to acquire the taste for it, and this just has to do with personal preferences. I always end up dousing it in extra sriracha or nuoc cham because I find the traditional recipe bland, much to everyone’s dismay. Yes, we were only two, but we also had Ca ri ga (chicken curry) and Neua Dtom Kem- beef cheek braised with sugar cane and star anise, served with steamed rice, a side of fried greens and assorted condiments. I loved the flavour so much (I also love it when meat melts in my mouth like butter) that I must try make it at home. I particularly enjoyed it with the sweet and sour sauce with sesame seeds and bullet chilli.
There was the mention of racism at Talisman during NRW, but my experience was very pleasant since the staff were friendly and efficient when it came to the service. We still had room for dessert and so my friend got the Thai and Vietnamese coffee granita which came in a mason jar and had salty caramel chocolate skewers, while I had Pandan and coconut ice cream with sweet chilli nuts, and soon it was time to leave.