Although we were all at Tien Dat to throw a surprise birthday party for Big Fil, it turned out that we were the ones that were given the surprise. Having thought that Big Fil was reaching a milestone birthday, we all felt a bit silly when Big Fil explained to us that his milestone birthday was still one year away (d'oh!). In any case, it's the thought that counts and we told Big Fil to remember to look surprised next year.
As there were quite a few of us, I was only able to take photos of the dishes that were close to me. Ms No Meat had ordered the vegetarian Vietnamese salad, which looked good to me but she said it was okay.
The Lawyer and I shared an entree of the steamed rice noodle pancakes. It was served on a bed of beanshoots and topped with slices of this porky pate and dried shrimps. A delicate but distinctly porky and shrimpy flavour, with a pleasantly chewyish texture - I quite liked this.
My grilled lemongrass pork vermicelli salad was okay. I've definitely have had better. Lots of noodles but the pork wasn't juicy and overly lean and it had rather minimal amounts of salad ingredients (shredded carrots, cukes, lettuce and herbs).
The Lawyer's mixed tripe and beef pho was also okay.
Verdict: we liked it.
The consensus among all of us was that Tien Dat was okay but it used to be much, much better. It is undeniably popular as the place was packed out - both upstairs and downstairs. However, for those of us who had been loyal Tien Dat diners, they felt that Tien Dat is resting on its laurels. As this was my first visit, I thought it was okay but nothing exceptional about the food.
The service was a bit slow and erratic. The drinks and dishes came out at different times, which didn't necessarily reflect when they were ordered, and we had to follow up with the staff a few times to check where our orders were at.