When the urge for a cheap and cheerful restaurant hits we decide to visit La Sen at Randwick's The Spot. Steaming hot bowls of beef noodle soup, crunchy spring rolls, fresh salads and ice cold drinks feature on this comprehensive Vietnamese menu.
There comes a point when you drive past a restaurant that you consider it too far to walk. And for people visiting The Spit with its popular cinema nearby, parking can often be tricky. "It's too far now," I say to Mr NQN, knotting my scarf with stiff fingers. Quickly, he switches into husband mode. "I'm going to drop you off," he says knowing that it will be easier than listening to me go on and on about walking in cold weather.
We had just enough time for a quick dinner and having eaten pizza, Persian this weekend, Vietnamese was a welcome distraction. The decor at La Sen is simple but service is very friendly and welcoming. They do a big takeaway trade it seems too.
Coconut Lime crush $7
Although it is 12°C/53.6°F outside, I can't help but order a coconut lime crush because it reminds me of being in Vietnam and those hot days where coconut citrus replenishes energy. There's a touch of salt in here too to make it a bit more moreish.
Banh Xeo $17.90
When we ask for some recommendations the lovely waitress says, "But I don't think you like deep fried food," to which I reply I have a deep, unabiding love affair with fried food. Take this item for example. One of my favourite items is the Vietnamese pancake or Banh Xeo that is a crunchy deep fried pancake. There is a regular version with pork, a roast duck version and a vegetarian one. We try the duck version which is a tasty upgrade. There are bean sprouts, prawns, pork, mung beans, shallot and onions as well as chopped roast duck. The pancake remains super crispy even with that nuoc cham sauce and I do indeed love fried food.
Lotus Stem Salad $16.90
We ordered something fresh to balance the fried food. When the lotus stem salad comes out we think that they've accidentally given us the green papaya salad but the lotus stem salad features green papaya as well. There are prawns, sliced pork, pickled salad, onions, green apple, fresh herbs and roasted peanuts and it is served with crunchy prawn crackers. I love the balance of flavours and the fresh, crunchy texture.
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup $14.90
There's an extra "Hello Winter" menu page and we were tossing up between pho and the spicy beef noodle soup and decided on the latter because chilli warms one up. You can get this with rare beef and flank, wagyu beef and with added beef balls and we go for the first option. It's delightfully spicy - a bit too spicy for Mr NQN who has to beg off drinking the rest of the soup.
La Sen All in One $18.90
For the permanently undecided (or that the permanently greedy?) I really like the "All in One" bun or vermicelli salad. This is topped with "everything" ie. sugarcane prawns, pork skewers, spring rolls and grilled pork. They bring out some extra sauce for this. This isn't bad but I think I prefer the other dishes as some of the toppings are a tad cold.
Alas there's no dessert menu but with ourselves sufficiently warmed up there are no complaints at all.
So tell me Dear Reader, how often do you go for these cheap and cheerful meals? And how do you feel about deep fried food? Do you like dishes where you get a bit of everything?
This meal was independently paid for.
41 Perouse Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
Phone: (02) 8065 5207
Monday to Thursday 11:30am–10pm
Friday to Sunday 11am–10pm