Yay!!!! To celebrate, or perhaps commiserate, my last night on the east coast, for an undefined length of time, FH Alphie took me to Red Lantern for dinner (see my previous post on Red Lantern, Luke Nguyen, and the difficulty I have had getting a table). Admittedly we were after a Tuesday night booking, and when FH Alphie called the day before to book a table, I thought that our chances were slim. But I was surprised, and excited, when I found out we had a table for 2 at 8.15.
We turned up at 8.15 and were ushered inside to a table behind the door (much better than it sounds mind you - we were out of the draught when the door was opened, and had a great view of the rest of the restaurant). And I suddenly realised why it had been so difficult to get a booking in the past - this is a seriously small place.
Our waiter explained the specials (spanner crab salad, and wagyu ribs), and how/what to order (think about the textures, something crispy with a fresh salad for example) and took our drinks order, although I think he was a bit disappointed that FH Alphie only had a coke! We also asked if photos were ok, after our last experience, and he looked surprised, but assured us that photos were not a problem - we could take photos of whatever we liked, as long as they weren't of him!
We started with the spanner crab salad, and the duck & enoki mushroom rice paper rolls. The salad was very tasty, although considerably spicier than anything we had in Vietnam (maybe we were being served the tame, 'Western' versions?), with a good ratio of crab meat to salad. The rice paper rolls were delicious, and had cute little mushrooms sticking out the rolls, in place of garlic chives.
We then had a 'middle course' of mussels steamed with garlic, chilli & lemongrass, which, given they were my first experience with mussels, were pretty tasty. The chilli was not too dominant, and the coconut milk mixed with the mussel juice to create a delicious sauce that meant I ate way to much rice at this point, given what was still to come.
We finished off with crispy chicken cooked in master stock, and some Asian greens. Although FH Alphie said that the chicken wasn't as good as the crispy skin duck we had at Billy Kwong, it was still really good. The master stock infused the chicken with beautiful flavours, and it was super soft, juicy and tender, with gorgeously crispy skin.
Possibly the only disappointment was the beer selection. There was only one Vietnamese beer on offer, although an impressive selection of other south-east Asian and internationals. We drank little else (apart from water & coke) while we were in Vietnam, and the beer they have on offer, 333, was one of the least impressive we had. We were both hoping to see either Hanoi or Larue, or even Saigon.
The next time you hear from me I'll be filling you in on my adventures in Perth!