PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Nestled behind the shops in tranquil Tea Tree Gully is an unexpected find. Lack of street frontage might mean you drive straight past it at first, but when you "discover" this hidden treat it will never slip from your culinary radar. Owner and chef Hung Diep is an unpretentious man and something of a quiet achiever. He humbly and matter-of-factly describes the ingredients he cooks with – of such quality that other chefs would be shouting them from the rooftops – such as Scotch fillet in all his beef dishes. These delights are savoured within funky lime green, red and aubergine walls. The contemporary decor is due to his lovely wife, except for the massive catfish that patrols an aquarium with his two fishy comrades. He came compliments of a grateful customer. A youthful front-of-house team welcome the regular clientèle, in a restaurant where reservations are recommended every night of the week.
Barbecue quail is marinated in a sensational mix of fresh herbs, chilli, lemongrass and spices. Slurp some hot and sour tom yum soup – mildly spicy with fresh tomato, celery, pineapple, bean sprouts and coriander – then refresh your palate with a cleansing Thai salad with a spiky lime dressing that makes the dish sing. Hawker style soup noodle options include traditional pho served with rice noodles, beef meatballs, thinly sliced veal, red onion, bean sprouts and fresh basil leaves; or Cambodian jelly noodle soup is another popular choice. Try the anchovy fried rice for something a little different or jump into a clay hot pot bulging with rice, chicken, Chinese sausage, roast pork, shrimp, water chestnuts, mushroom and topped with a fried egg. Hung says his specialty of Vietnamese curry is different to a Thai or Indian curry, but I shall leave it to you to find out how and why.