THE NEW BOBBY’S VIETNAMESE AND CHINESE RESTAURANT BRINGS AFFORDABLE FLAIR TO FAMILY DINING
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.