The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Ilove sur­prises. Go­ing to any restau­rant you al­ways hope for the best, or you wouldn’t be there. But some­times, maybe based on hearsay, or a past ex­pe­ri­ence, you go with an open mind, yet sub­con­sciously don’t ex­pect to be thrilled.

We’d been to Bobby’s Viet­namese and Chi­nese restau­rant when it was lo­cated in Aplin St and, while no com­plaints, hadn’t put it on the favourites list.

Re­lo­cated in Grafton St, we thought we’d cel­e­brate a fam­ily oc­ca­sion and took the kids for a Fri­day night after sports feed.

Settling in­side for air­con with menus and cool drinks on a very hu­mid evening, we are dither­ing over choices de­spite ram­pant hunger, un­til Bobby’s wife, Mea­gan Tran, of­fers a few sug­ges­tions.

It’s not that we’re es­pe­cially in­de­ci­sive, but the menu is ex­ten­sive and there are se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tions such as, do we fly solo? I’m han­ker­ing for a bowl of pho, but shar­ing seems like a more in­clu­sive way to en­joy a birth­day din­ner. Also, should we fuse cul­tures, or hold tra­di­tional lines? In the end, we dab­ble in both. Viet­namese rice pa­per rolls for starters, Chi­nese mains, all go­ing into the cen­tre for a fam­ily feast. And what a spread it is. The rice pa­per rolls are the best, bar none. Tofu and mar­i­nated beef, both su­pe­rior to any, any­where, ever.

The skins are pli­able and easy to man­age, the fill­ings fresh, still warm, the tofu rolls packed with de­li­cious lightly fried slices of tofu, ver­mi­celli, salad and fresh herbs. Beef rolls con­tain warm sliv­ers of pli­ant lean sea­soned meat and the pre­req­ui­site noo­dle salad.

Served with out­stand­ing home-made condi­ments, in­clud­ing a lemon-grass in­fused chilli oil, they high­light how an un­pre­ten­tious dish ex­e­cuted with fi­nesse can go so right. These rolls could well be the high­light.

The chil­dren wash them down with self­serve fruity ice tea, the adults cold Kirin and Ts­ing Tao beers.

Plen­ti­ful main cour­ses in­clude sweet and sour pork (young­sters’ favourite), sa­tay chicken, salt and pep­per squid and fried rice.

While we may not have re-in­vented the wheel here, they are all ex­cep­tion­ally good.

Even sweet and sour pork, which would never be my choice, is mor­ish, the deep fried bat­ter crisp, yet nei­ther thick nor oily, the use of crisp ice­berg let­tuce leaves and pineap­ple pieces (ie. not tinned), mod­er­ate use of sauce and sprin­kling of sesame seeds, all signs of qual­ity.

Sa­tay chicken is abun­dant, light, lean ten­der sliv­ers of flesh lightly pan fried, a few more of those fresh pineap­ple pieces for con­trast, the sauce slightly pi­quant but fam­ily friendly.

Mal­leable salt and pep­per squid has come straight from the wok in a dust­ing of sea­soned flour; it is in­ter­spersed with red pep­per and onion. Fried rice, again not ex­ces­sively oily or over done.

Clearly time and thought goes into even the more main­stream, less com­pli­cated dishes and the gen­er­ous use of herbs and other fresh in­gre­di­ents makes each mouth­ful a plea­sure. Ser­vice is friendly and ca­pa­ble. A lim­ited wine list is only re­ally worth con­sid­er­ing by the bot­tle, yet there is a range of other in­ter­est­ing bev­er­ages, in­clud­ing Viet­namese spe­cial­ties, fresh juices and a long tea list.

The chil­dren fin­ish off with lus­cious smooth­ies, a “gi­ant hulk” com­prised of banana, av­o­cado, honey and milk, in place of dessert.

Ver­dict: So many rea­sons to re­turn.

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