I am a freelance reviewer in Sydney, and lover of sharing my experiences in all things food, wine, entertainment and travel related.
Published May 2nd 2013
Modern Vietnamese by the Beach
One usually doesn't head to Coogee Beach to find Vietnamese fare, but Banana Palm restaurant is bringing fresh, high quality French–Vietnamese food to the area.
The unsuspecting venue looks much like someone's home from the outside. It's a yellow painted building with a large wooden door which is closed, but if you peek inside and see the tables of people and look above the door to see the Banana Palm sign, you begin to realise that this is in fact a restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, and is tastefully decorated, incorporating modern décor with dark woods, dim lighting, muted tones and sepia tone photographic artworks adorning the walls – all very colonial Vietnamese style.
The food is equally as impressive as the décor, and takes Vietnamese cuisine to new heights, offering a fusion of pan-Asian classics with French influences.
Bringing a touch of east meets west, Head Chef and owner Hai Pham delivers an impressive and interesting menu with reasonable prices, and offering plenty of variety.
For entrée, sample the Banh Xeo - a traditional Vietnamese savoury pancake with pork, prawns, mung beans, bean sprouts and onion for $13. The pancake is crispy and the flavours of the filling go down nicely.
The braised chicken breast with caramelized sauce for $23 is a good option for the main course. The chicken is sliced ready for you to put on your fork and has a nice golden brown exterior. The chicken is moist and tender and tastes delicious in the caramelised sauce.
The must try and not to be missed dish for main course is most definitely the lamb shank curry with sweet potato and eggplant for $24. The dish offers many depths of flavour including sweet and spicy notes, and the lamb shanks, bathed in the fragrant sauce is fall-apart tender. Everything about this dish is perfect.
One can tell that each dish is prepared with plenty of thought, to ensure the taste, style and detail is well executed to deliver a great dining experience for all. Freshness and flavours are what this restaurant is all about, and it is most certainly a welcome addition to the Coogee dining scene.
The restaurant has its own licensed bar, but also offers BYO for wine only, making it nice and friendly to the hip pocket.
Banana Palm restaurant provides authentic Vietnamese dishes, in a stylish setting by the beach.