On a recent Sydney trip a large group of friends descended on Red Lantern in Surry Hills for a night of Luke Nguyen brilliance. Being the organised freak that I am, I booked before Christmas and having paid my $100 deposit for the tasting menu banquet, was eagerly anticipating what was in store for us at the well know haunt.
Red Lantern is a very modest - walk too fast and you will miss it restaurant. The walls inside are painted dark red and we sat out the front of the restaurant just off the street which made it feel like we were having dinner out the front of a friends cool terrace house.
As mentioned, due to the size of our table we had to get the tasting menu (for 6 people or more). I say hadbut really – who I am I kidding? Helloooo more food!!!!! With so many items on the shared dining menu it was awesome value and you get to try so many more amazing flavours than you normally would.
Another great part about the tasting menu – is if you have vegetarians in your group – they won’t miss out and either will you if you’re worried about meals being altered! Vegetarians are bought out their very own meals – all of which looked just as delicious as the meat versions.We took the cheaper tasting menu option – $60 per head and we had more than enough food and had people actually thinking it was all over when just the first round had been served!
Goi Vit Cuon – Rice paper rolls with roast duck, enoki mushrooms and Vietnamese herbs
Muc Rang Muoi – lightly battered chilli salted squid served with a fresh lemon and white pepper dipping sauce
This piled up mass of squid was very delicious. The squid was very light, cut into thin strips and came accompanied by the very powerful dipping sauce that was a instant BAM hit of sour yet ended with a addictive sweetness. A few of us couldn’t decide at first if we actually liked the sauce however, we couldn’t stop coming back for more and the squid would not have been as awesome without it.
Goi Ga – master stock chicken with jelly fish salad, cabbage and mint. I can’t say I have ever tasted jelly fish before and was slightly apprehensive especially paired with chicken (sometimes seafood/meat or seafood/poultry combinations make me feel a little odd) but this time there was no oddness. The crushed peanuts added a crunch to the relatively wet salad and it was a set of flavours that I really enjoyed.
Goi Du Du – Tiger Prawns with Berkshire Pork salad, green papaya, and mint
Mi Vit – Burrawong Peking Duck – served with noodles and Asian greens. This was my highlight of the meal. The picture speaks volumes. Perfect duck beautifully cooked, perfectly tender on a bed of simple greens and noodles keeping the duck and its flavour as the centre piece of the meal.
Thit Heo Man Ruoc – Black Berkshire Pork Shoulder caramelised with lemongrass, chilli and shrimp paste. This dish was the first of the meal that moved away from the lighter salad style meals and it packed a warming winter punch of strong flavours and melt in the mouth pork portions.
Ca Sot Dua Ca – Blue Eye Trevella poached in prawn, tomato and coconut broth.
Bok hu – Wagyu Beef braised in tomato with cinnamon, cassia and star anise. The finale of the meal packed a strong meaty flavour – the large chunks of tender beef in a robust sauce were to die for.
Lastly – here is one of the Vegetarian meals that was a standout – it represented the meat dish for vegetarians and seemed to be thick mushrooms with a sesame casing. It had a extremely odd texture but tasted superb and was nice and filling for the vego’s.
I recommend if you have a large table to book in advance – the website recommends at least 2 months – you don’t want to be caught out -kicking yourself for not being organised! The website is also worth a look for those of you who won’t be going to Sydney any time soon- there is an online store and you can buy some cool items – www.redlantern.com.au