I've only recently gotten into the BYO restaurant scene and all I can say to that is: what on earth took me so long?
Wine has become an integral part of my dining experience and when you're accustomed to a bottle per meal, a meal at a full licensed restaurant suddenly becomes quite expensive. It's not uncommon for the cheapest bottle on the wine list to be well over the price of a main. That's where BYO comes in. You get the benefit of a nice bottle of red with your meal without the exuberant mark up. Sure, there's usually corkage but that's almost negligable.
Marc and I were in the mood for Asian food + BYO wine (it's such an ace combination) one night and I instantly thought of The Vietnamese. I'd been there for lunch a couple of times and Marc and I had also gone there for a banquet with some close friends. We thought the food was good so it was definitely worth going back to.
We didn't make a booking that night so we were pretty lucky to get a table. The couple who came in a few minutes after us just missed out. This restaurant always seems busy.
The restaurant itself is plain and undecorated. If you're after a ritzy experience, The Vietnamese is not for you. We don't care about that kind of thing, especially when we're there for fun and flavor so it didn't bother us one bit.
The menu contains Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. We selected a couple of entrees and mains to share.
The first of our entrees was the coconut prawns. They were large prawns with a thick, shredded coconut batter. Marc didn't hate this dish but he didn't love it either. He thought the large amount of coconut took away from the prawn, which he couldn't really taste. I agree with him. I liked the sound of coconut prawns on paper but they just weren't as good as I expected.
Grilled beef fun roll
Our next entree was the do it yourself rice paper rolls. I chose the grilled beef filling for this one since our mains included a seafood and a duck dish and I wanted variety.
The grilled beef had a great flavor. It was a little on the tough side but nothing that I couldn't chew through. It came with some pickled carrot, lettuce, cucumber and rice noodles to wrap with.
Stir-fried scallops with chili and garlic sauce
We wanted a seafood main and Marc chose the scallops with chili garlic sauce. We both found this dish to be rather bland. There weren't many scallops and plenty of vegetables, but I think that's typical for a seafood dish. It just needed more salt/soy/something to lift the flavor. The scallop meat was quite tender but I suspect it's frozen scallop.
Deep fried duck with plum sauce
I was crazy over the deep fried duck dish. I completely disregarded how unhealthy this was (deep-fried with a sweet plum sauce) because I liked it so much. I suspect I probably finished 3/4 of the duck. It was nice and crispy with big pieces of duck meat. Like pork, duck just works well with a sweet sauce so I found this whole dish irresistable.
We had a good time at The Vietnamese. There were a couple of misses with the dishes we ordered but I think that's more so to do with our personal taste than the dishes being 'bad'. We've been there enough times to know that overall, they offer a good range of food done well. The service is speedy and the BYO aspect is a great bonus.