An impeccably presented Vietnamese meal, that doesn't break the bank at South Bank, which is also healthy for you?
The above dream lunch or dinner may sound like an impossibility but I discovered just that in the delightfully surprising Viet de Lites, on Little Stanley Street, just the other week. Little Stanley Street is the new it place to grab a bite to eat in Brisbane and customers really are spoilt for choice.
It doesn't matter whether you are craving a delicious Spanish feast or a late night waffle there is something for every palate. Strolling down the street on a sunny afternoon on a day out with my mother recently we both spotted Viet de Lites at the same time, the restaurant's vivid green and white décor catching our eye. Drawn to the menu board out front we were more than tempted to sit down straight away despite it being only 10am.
After a full day's walking and exploring, we ventured all the way to Eagle St Pier and back, we followed our guts and returned to Viet de Lites. It was around 2pm at this stage, quite late for lunch we thought, but the café was still bustling with people eating and laughing which made us feel good about our choice.
Straight away a friendly and attentive wait staff came to our aid, seating us out the front with a beautiful view over to the Parklands. The service was prompt and welcoming without being too much. True to their word the Viet de Lites menu was healthy, but would it be tasty too?
An extensive line-up of enticing dishes filled the pages, we really could have ordered six or seven dishes that stood out. Being lunch we opted not to have an entrée but the Saigon Rockets – Chả giò cua sounded like a must next time with crab and prawn accompanied by ear fungus and jicama in a traditional rice paper treat.
As I was on one of my health kicks at the time, I chose a Vegetarian (Đồ Chay) dish and really the vegetarian menu was one of the best I have seen for a long time. Despite being tempted by the Pumpkin Stir Fried (Bí Xào Dừa) which had a scrumptious sounding combination of baked pumpkin, sweet potatoes and indulgent coconut cream, I decided to try the healthiest thing on the menu - Bún Đậu Phụ - Fried Tofu Rice Vermicelli.
The lady taking our orders made me feel good straight away commenting on how healthy I was being! The dish came and I was not disappointed. A beautifully presented plate busting with fresh flavours and colours greeted me with cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled carrot and mint complimenting the silky tofu.
Their homemade fish sauce was incredible and added the element that tied it all in together. Again the friendliness of the staff shone through here as she told me the not-so-secret fish sauce recipe - so I could attempt to replicate the dish at home. Try as I might, I still haven't perfected it, but of course the wonderful atmosphere made the meal.
My mum chose the Cà Ri Gà – Chicken Coconut Curry - it was reasonably priced at just $20.90. With my meal a bargain at $14.90, I struggled to finish it all despite so most of it being light accompaniments to the hero on the plate - tofu. The curry was also another generous serving and from our near silence, I know how much both dishes were enjoyed. I tasted a little bit of the chicken coconut curry and it was everything it should be. The curry was intense, without being overpowering and the chicken was tender and the vegetable were both plentiful and varied.
Next time, which I hope isn't too far away, I have decided to try one of their fish dishes, the Cá Kho Tộ - Braised Fish Clay Pot featuring marinated fish braised with a homemade sauce - it really does sound good doesn't it?
There are also the desserts (Tráng Miệng) to enjoy with Deep Fried Ice-cream, Movenpick Switzerland Sorbet plate, and Black Rice Pudding all inviting my purchase.
Offering full sit-down service like we enjoyed, two set menu options, take-away and catering whatever your culinary needs Viet de Lites is a must try restaurant right in the heart of south bank.
Set Menu – Yes
Catering – Yes
Atmosphere – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Food – 9/10
Image by Yuchinkay from Flickr (Wikimedia Commons)