Vietnam Sunrise

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date of visit: March 2010

The relatively recent acquisition of a reliable car has meant that culinary forays can be made a little further afield than the CBD. An outing to Thebarton Theatre provided the perfect opportunity to pay a flying visit to Vietnam Sunrise.

I love Vietnamese food for its light, fresh flavours – a crude description could be “Thai without the chilli”, and I’d driven past this unprepossessing restaurant enough times to take note of it. It shares its shop frontage with a supermarket, a pasta shop and a charity shop on Henley Beach Road, just opposite Holbrooks Road. As you drive past it looks tiny and possibly a little dark and maybe even shabby.

Reality could not be further from this. The restaurant is deep, well lit and furnished with well spaced tables and bright red chairs. We wandered in just after 6pm on a Thursday evening and were seated at the front, giving us the perfect opportunity to watch our fellow diners.

Hmm, just one table to people watch then … but during the course of our meal the restaurant began to fill up (and, as is depressingly common, noise levels increased). I suspect that were you wishing to dine on a Friday or Saturday evening a booking would be well advised.

As we were on a schedule there was time just for main courses. I couldn’t convince Andy to try a Vietnamese beer, so beverage wise our choices were limited to a James Boags and a pineapple juice. Food wise I couldn’t go past the Vietnamese roast pork. In a manner, I’ve had this dish before but I wasn’t entirely sure what I would get – but as long as it contained plenty of belly pork with crackling I knew I would be happy. Andy chose the Seafood Treasure Basket, which promised scallops, squid, king prawns and mussels in a crisp noodle basket. As the evening wore on it became obvious that this was a very popular choice amongst Vietnam Sunrise’s diners.

When my pork arrived I couldn’t have been happier … 2 huge slices of crispy, crunchy belly pork with perfect crackling, accompanied by pickles and a ton of salad, including plenty of fresh mint and coriander. Being me, and lacking instructions otherwise, I ate everything separately, reserving my mint and coriander for my vermicelli noodles. It turns out that what I should have done is wrap my pork in lettuce leaf and add the salad, pickles and noodles to the package. Well, I know for next time!

At first, Andy’s seafood basket looked a little short on the seafood front, but as he dug through to the bottom there were no complaints. He enjoyed the sauce, which softened the bottom of the basket, making it easy to eat (although, personally, I enjoyed the crispy edges!).

Both dishes were generously proportioned and priced at under $20 and we left spending under $50 for our entire meal. On subsequent visits I’d be inclined to share (both entrees and mains) in order to maximise exposure – there’s no way I could manage 2, let alone 3 courses.

Aside from needing instructions with my roast pork, the only criticism of our meal would have to be the noticeable wait between the arrival of my pork and Andy’s seafood basket. Given that we were only a table of two in a restaurant less than 50% full when we ordered the gap was disconcerting.

We left Vietnam Sunrise full and happy. We’ll definitely be heading back!

Good value Vietnamese

Excellent, cheap Vietnamese food in a bright restaurant just out of the city centre.

Rating:4.5 stars
****1/2

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