Must eat

Top End chef David Tay­lor gives you a taste of the good tucker to be found in the Ter­ri­tory

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER FOOD - DAVID CLYDE TAY­LOR SELBY restau­rant re­view

AD­DRESS: 11 Knuckey Street, Dar­win CBD PHONE: 8941 5555 OWNER and CHEF: Mahn Hoang EN­TREES: $8 to $10 MAINS: $22 to $40 LUNCH SPE­CIALS: $15 OPEN: Ev­ery day for lunch and din­ner STAR QUAL­ITY: 4.4/5

RE­CENTLY re­branded from the Bangkok Hut, Chef Hoang chose the iconic sym­bol of the con­i­cal hat worn by Viet­namese women, the Non La, as the new name for his beloved restau­rant. Hoang is a sea­soned and very ex­pe­ri­enced chef who hails from Ho Chi Minh City.

There he worked in the top rank­ing ho­tels in South Viet­nam, the Car­avelle and Con­ti­nen­tal in Dis­trict One.

He also spent four years in Italy. He has for­mally trained in Viet­namese, Thai, Chi­nese, French and Ital­ian cuisines.

He has been woo­ing us in Dar­win with his stun­ning food for awhile now.

We are start­ing to see more Viet­namese dishes ap­pear on the of­fer­ings, and there will be more to come. Good change is like a slow mov­ing cater­pil­lar — just let it hap­pen with­out push­ing it and a beau­ti­ful but­ter­fly will emerge.

I find my­self re­turn­ing here to recheck and re­taste the chef’s in­cred­i­ble pho (pro­nounced “fur”). It is sim­ply the best — bar none in my opin­ion.

In fact, friends who came up from Ade­laide for the week­end in­sisted to re­turn for a bowl of good­ness. One of them was from Hanoi, and said it’s eas­ier to get to Dar­win than Hanoi for a de­cent bowl of pho. The lengths we go to for a good feed! What a tes­ta­ment to his craft.

On this day I de­cided to try the new spiced pork chops for lunch. Served with rice and a won­der­ful dunk­ing sauce.

The chops were ten­der, lightly spiced as ex­pected and a touch sweet.

In typ­i­cal Viet­namese fash­ion, un­der­stated joy on a plate.

This is another ex­cep­tional value $15 lunch spe­cial.

Another had the renowned pho with beef and ex­tra beef balls. Still the same, and that is com­fort­ing. Don’t mess with per­fec­tion. But then again, don’t trust my opin­ion — have some your­self and see what we are all on about.

Look­ing around us was clear con­fir­ma­tion that Chef Hoang is also very re­spected by the Viet­namese com­mu­nity who out­num­bered “in­ci­den­tals” two to one.

A dear friend was in town and was hang­ing out for laksa — he grew up here and finds the pre­tend lak­sas in Syd­ney brash and sickly sweet.

My friend trav­els the globe for work and al­ways pushes his sched­ule to get into Dar­win as of­ten as he can. Laksa is one of the main rea­sons for his re­turn.

So he held his own plebiscite and de­clared Non La and Chef Hoang’s laksa the best.

It was an hon­est and true vote of one, but that is all that is needed.

It is now of­fi­cial: Non La boasts the best pho and laksa in the whole uni­verse. If you have any doubt, put your buds on the line and give them a go!

Owner of Non La Restau­rant Marh Hoary and Thuy Nguyen with one of their dishes Pic­ture: KERI MEGELUS

The best pho in town (above) and de­li­cious laksa (left) and Non La Viet­namese restau­rant

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