It's always a challenge to find a restaurant to eat at with my parents. It was my mother's birthday and she adores Asian food be it Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean but we needed a restaurant that wouldn't be too hip it hurt because that's not fun for them. Enter Bay Hong, open for over 10 years in Surry Hills.
We had another Vietnamese restaurant on the radar and we were all set to eat there until I realised that they didn't open until 6:30pm. And my father likes to eat at 5:30pm because in his ideal world he is in bed by 8pm. So Bay Hong it was. I have to admit that although I've walked down Crown Street many times I have never noticed this restaurant. I had assumed it was relatively new but it's only when I overhear that they have been open for 10 years that I do a double take. It does remind me of a modern restaurant in Vietnam.
The first question they ask if we are vegan or vegetarian because they have a separate menu (and there are lots of gluten free options too). Then they place our two page menu down. The first page is a page of their regular customer's favourites-they explain that these are the dishes that regulars won't let them take off the menu.
First let's address the teapot situation. Every time we eat out my mother has to have a pot of hot water. Not tea, not room temperature water but hot water (it's an Asian thing I think). And she is very pleased with her teapot. More pleased than someone should really be for an item she won't get to take home with her ;) I wish I could have bought it for her.
The first arfives quickly as we are the first diners. These small crabs are filled with a herby mince and we are given small spoons to prise the meat out with.
Did I mention how much I love meatballs? We ordered two types of meatballs tonight and the starters are pork meatballs with a house spice blend and a nước chấm sauce on the side. The balls are a little on the dry side alas.
I really like the cracker duck salad because of the fresh element as well as the crunch. It has slices of roast duck, pickled granny smith apple, carrot, green papaya, snow pea sprouts, basil, mint, cucumber topped with ground roasted peanuts, fried shallots, chili flakes and pieces of black sesame crackers that stay crunchy even with the dressing.
The next three mains arrive all at once. The pork meatballs come as four large meatballs made with pork, mushrooms, crystal noodles, carrot, and chestnut filling. It's strong in flavour with a rich gravy with lots of crunchy peanuts for texture on top. You definitely need rice for this.
Hands down everyone's favourite dish is the beef osso bucco curry. They explain that traditionally the curry isn't made with osso bucco but they have found that this cut gives a much better result. The meat is slow cooked osso bucco in a rich, slightly sweet Vietnamese curry sauce.
The red prawns are a generously portioned dish. There are king prawns sautéed in a house-made red lemongrass sauce with onions served in a traditional clay pot. The prawns are hot in temperature as well as spice and alas too spicy for my father. They too are strongly flavoured with spices and the prawns have a springy texture to them.
The garlic rice is delicious and strong in sweet, sticky garlic although it is a bit pricey for the small serve.
It's dessert time and there are two sections to the dessert menu: warm desserts or ice cream. We like the sound of both warm desserts. The steamed black sticky rice is served with thick coconut cream, lychees and pearls of sago. The only part that I am not as fond of is the roasted peanuts on top as they are a bit distracting texture wise from the rest of the comfortingly soft dessert.
We all love the pandan jelly pudding served as slices of pandan jelly with lots of coconut cream. This too is topped with roasted, crushed peanuts and sesame.
And then of course being my mother's birthday we go home for cake. Bien sur! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, are you team ice cream or warm dessert? And do you order dessert and then have cake?
This meal was independently paid for.
296 Crown St, Sydney NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9360 8688
Sunday to Thursday: 5 PM to 9.30 PM
Friday & Saturday: 5 PM to 10.30 PM
Friday Lunch: 11 AM to 3.00 PM