My high school friend (Hi Michelle!) was visiting from Boston and I haven’t seen her since first year uni so we had a meet up in Sydney. She said her boss who was Australian had recommended Red Lantern to her so we decided to try it. Red Lantern is opened by Luke Nguyen, a celebrity chef in Australia. They serve high end Vietnamese food with some new twists. Generally when I think about Vietnamese food, it’s usually a giant bowl of pho or pork rolls at affordable prices so I told myself to be open minded towards fine dining Vietnamese food. Bear in mind, I’m not much of a fine diner (yet)!
We had 5 people so we decided to get 5 dishes. Prior to my visit, I did some research on their dishes and Aunty’s 5’s Rice Cakes consistently appeared in my search. The rice cakes were topped with tiger prawns, carmelized pork, pork floss and shallot oil. The bite sized rice cakes were full of savoury flavours that packed quite a punch and I’ve never seen pork floss used like this before in a dish! Pork floss is a very cheap ingredient but I think it was used effectively in this case. This was a great appetizer that whetted your appetite for more.
Another popular dish is the Chilli Salted Squid. The squid was very tender with a light batter and the chilli and salt flavours were quite mild unless you dipped it in the sauce provided. The sauce was a lemon and white pepper mix and the acidity provided some extra flavour. I think I would’ve preferred a crunchier batter though and perhaps I’m used to bolder flavours for a dish like this.
Next up we have the Pan Fried Fish Fillets with lemongrass scented coconut milk, sawtooth coriander and chilli. The fish were nicely cooked and the broth was light and fragrant. Again I thought the flavours were quite mild here as well. Maybe I was expecting more of a curry like broth but the flavours were pleasant.
The Crispy Skin Bannockburn Chicken showed up in my food searches a lot as well. The chicken is cooked in master stock and served with ginger, shallots and oyster sauce. The chicken was flavourful and tender while the oyster sauce flavours from the sauce reminded me a lot of Chinese cuisine (I’m Chinese btw). I think for me it tasted a lot like a modernized or fusion version of a Chinese dish but probably with different flavours due to being cooked in a master stock.
Lastly we had the Roast Free Range Valenca Pork Belly marinated with coriander seeds, black pepper and oyster sauce with a vegetable salad and herbs. I love pork belly so I had my eye on this! The pork belly had a crunchy crackling skin and each piece was the perfect blend of fattiness and tender meat. I don’t think it needed the sauce. Of course I had to compare this to Chinese style roast pork (sorry I couldn’t help it since that’s my only reference point), and in this case it was less salty which is probably a good thing.
I think I was expecting more prominent flavours and nothing was bad here but I don’t think the steep price tag was worth it in this case. I feel like I’m the only person who didn’t think it was amazing…