(featured image from Zomato!)
So for a fun monthly meet up the gang decided to try out Vietnamese food. We’ve done the thai (a bit too many times), the korean (though we love it so much), and the Japanese (ramen of course!). It made sense to go for viet food! And I do not mean banh mi no matter how amazing those rolls of deliciousness are.
Before I even begin this review, I must apologise! We all got so caught up in eating… that we totally forgot to take photos of the meals! I have a few but I will add some more from my online sources *cough* zomato *cough* .
Tucked away on Castlereagh sweet, on the quiet side I might add, the restaurant boasts a beautiful entrance and store front. It’s the kind that isn’t flashy but is nice and noticeable. The interiors are simple and actually really warm. There is a romantic vibe to the restaurant, not so much to make you awkward with friends, but enough to give your meals an intimate feel. The seating is ample, and most importantly well spaced out. I absolutely detest restaurants that are overly cramped. (Now I should note we did go on a Wednesday night… so the restaurant was a little bit empty -_-)
What I found really impressive? The menu! It’s substantial with a really good variety of items, though lacking in the vegetarian department. I’d personally stayed away from vietnamese cuisine because of the beef based broths used, but Silverspoon offered a bunch of alternatives. The section for street food was fun, with a range of exotic flavours and meats, while incorporating the classics too – yup they do have banh mi and sweet and sour pork.
Now to the service. This I would normally add after discussing the food… but seriously, the service was amazing. Our waiter hardly spoke English but he made the biggest effort to offer us our table water, drinks, and help us through the menu to give us his personal opinion of the good food 🙂 Honestly, he was just the sweetest.
Now to the food, many thanks to the waiter for helping us select!
We opened the night with some lotus tea for two, lemon lime bitters and coca cola with cute Crispy Wontons along with Goi Ngo Sen – Lotus shoot salad. The Wontons were super crispy and the little packages were packed with just enough filling and flavour. Accompanied with some fish sauce (which wasn’t as pungent as the one we would buy at the super market… it was a lot lighter!) and sweet chili sauce… oh and hot chili slices of course. At face value, I would say that the entree was rather small… but I found the quantity of food we bought to actually be perfect for the group of 5 🙂 The salad was a star for me.
Served with some prawn crackers, the fresh salad was packed with flavour! The prawns were cooked perfectly and were wonderfully tender. The dressing that went over it just made them even more amazing. I’m not usually a fan of steamed any meat other than fish… but everyone agreed that the pork was moist and tender and basically just fell apart in your mouth. Definitely recommend the salad to share!
Oh I should talk about the lotus tea! WARNING: ONLY PURCHASE IF YOU ARE AN AVID TEA DRINKER. I’m being 100% serious that this didn’t go down well with everyone. I liked the nutty and mildly floral tones, that sort of gave me the slightest hint of licorice right at the end. Not for everyone… but if you are feeling a little adventurous… go for it 🙂
The mains… were fabulously substantial! The rice servings are included in the price of each meal which is great. We ordered…. (I’m going to list these)
- Thit Kho – caramelised pork
- Heo chua ngot – sweet and sour pork (of course!)
- Heo xa ot – Lemongrass pork
- Ga xao tieu den – pepper chicken
- Ga xao hat dieu – cashew nut chicken
The highlight of it all… honestly the sweet and sour pork and the pepper chicken.
To deconstruct every meal though… the caramelised pork was incredibly dense and well… meaty. The broth was actually fabulous to pour over the rice to accompany the other drier dishes. The meat was incredibly tender, and basically melted away. What was great? The meal wasn’t salty! What was no so great? I think I like more veggies, or something to give a little bit of texture to the meal.
The biggest disappointment of the night… the lemongrass pork. Unfortunately it was a little over cooked. The flavours were there, and there was depth in texture, but the over done meat basically killed the other flavours. The meat was dry and chewy, and it sort of drew out the moisture from everything else. Okay that sounds a little scathing. Maybe on a different night it would be 1000 times better 😀
I liked the sweetness of cashew nut chicken, but it didn’t go well with everyone. The chicken was lovely and the meal was packed with veggies, which I loved. The meat lovers obviously wanted more chicken. The cashews provided the meal with some added crunch and texture. I would recommend this one for anyone that really cannot handle spicy food, and wants to play it fairly safe in terms of the food.
Pepper chicken was truly delish. I loved the warm taste of the pepper that wasn’t overdone at all. The chicken was tender and moist and went deliciously with the rice. I topped this one with the broth from the caramelised pork and it tasted even more amazing! yum yum yum. Can’t say more. Defs recommend this one!
Now to the sweet and sour pork. Most of us unanimously agreed that this was an equal stand-out. I mean how could you possibly go wrong with such a classic dish? And they do it so wonderfull 🙂 The pork is crispy and sticky and accompanied with veggies that just add a pop of colour, pop of texture, and fun flavour. Obviously I recommend this to everyone.
Service: 9.5/10 Food was bought our in a timely manner!(the only downside was the struggle to understand our waiter!)
Ambiance: 9/10 (the restaurant was a little empty when we went)
Food: 8/10 There were true stand-outs in the pack, and the flavours were all bang on. Ofc we had one overcooked meal, but on a good day, even it would be a highlight meal.
Originality: 7.5/10 I like that the menu has street food elements, the well known banh mi and a wide range of foods, however I would love to see more vegetarian options and a few more dishes that are a little more unique and well… unheard of
Overall ranking: 8.5/10
Boop di boop. Everything was delish and I would definitely come back. It’s a sweet date place, and is operated by truly the sweetest people. I have to say that the ambiance and service were the true highlights of the overall experience.