Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red Lantern on Riley - birthday part deux

So the second part of the other half's birthday was actually on his birthday. Well, I wasn't going to spend it in the kitchen, so I tried to find somewhere that was not as 'special', so as to overshadow as the main birthday meal (first part was at Ocean Room, here), but fancy enough for another night out.

Enter the newly opened Red Lantern on Riley

So much for thinking this was just a casual, neighbourhood Vietnamese place - this is much more than that!

Very swish decor, though at night it's a bit hard to see (dim lighting).
Must have cost a pretty penny, and it's certainly beautifully turned out, with bentwood chairs and French Colonial-inspired tiles melding with old mirrors, family pictures , red lanterns(!) and Vietnamese-style screens. Lovely flower arrangements (orchids).

Not knowing what the serving sizes were like, we ordered a couple of entrees, and some mains. Plus room for dessert, of course. Here's what we had.

Goi Cuon ($19.80) – rice paper rolls with tiger prawns, free-range pork, vermicelli, herbs.  These rolls were super fresh, some of the best (and most expensive!) I've had.
Muc Rang Muoi ($25.30) – chilli salted squid with lemon and white pepper dipping sauce. The chilli squid was piping hot (freshly fried, mmm!) with a light batter, like tempura, not too spicy but incredibly moreish.
Red Lantern guys, if you're reading this, the Muc Rang Muoi was $15.30 on the menu, but we were charged $25.30. Misprint somewhere?

Bun Thit Nuong ($30.80) – chargrilled pork marinated in honey, served with mint, perilla leaves and lettuce to wrap. This dish is deemed a 'mid course' rather than a main. You take one of the soft lettuce leaves and pile on some of the luscious pork and bean sprouts together with a couple of torn herb leaves, then wrap it up and devour. This dish is simple but amazingly good.
Vit Quay ($41.80) – roasted Burrawong Pekin duck with spiced orange sauce and fennel watercress salad. Quite a few meaty duck pieces, and the salad was a refreshing complement.
We also had Rice ($3.30).

To drink – 333 beer ($9.35) and a pot of jasmine tea ($8.25). Does anyone else think these pricings are a bit strange/odd? Maybe they include carbon tax!

Dessert platter for 2 ($24.20) – coconut crème caramel, black sticky rice and sesame and rice flour dumplings filled with soursop. All a nice enough end to the meal.

All up, a great meal with the best ingredients - all the dishes were prepared beautifully and the serving sizes were fairly decent. The waitstaff we had were perfect - observant, a bit familiar, but knowledgeable about the food.

My only gripe is the prices - I certainly wasn't expecting to pay as much as this for a 'casual Vietnamese' meal (those are my quotes, by the way), but I suppose you have to take into account the inner city location and the lovely decor and quality of the food.  The experience is quite different to the rusticity that you see owner Luke Nguyen encountering on his wonderful tv programs on Vietnam and the Mekong.

Overall, it was a fine finish to the other half's birthday celebrations and I'd like to go back to try other dishes - it would be great if someone else was paying, though!

Red Lantern on Riley
60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010 
ph: 02 9698 4355 
I booked online by choosing a date and time and they called back to confirm, plus a text reminder as well. Very smooth procedure.

Red Lantern on Riley on Urbanspoon


  1. Definitely looks like a wonderful feed, although with all those meals, my parents cook at home so makes me a bit reluctant to pay the price. Am I weird or is that normal? Happy birthday to your boy!

  2. I reallllly want to go to Red Lantern. Big Time. Your post has only fuelled the fire!

  3. Tea should be complimentary in my opinion :/ the rest look awesome though

  4. That chargrilled pork sounds delicious but I agree.. a little on the pricier end of things

  5. I don't eat Vietnamese food often enough...that's what this post proved to me.

  6. A bit pricey, isn't it? At least, the food looks quite pleasant and good.

  7. It is pretty pricey I agree. I expect the dishes to cost a bit (esp the meat dishes as it's all ethically raised meat) but the beer & tea seem a bit OTT to be honest. It's out of my price range at the moment sadly as it looks delicious!

  8. Oh...happy birthday to your other half!

  9. RE strange prices: You've obviously dined out on a SUNDAY night. The additional Sunday loading rates for staff that would have usually be seen as a 10% service charge has been changed by NSW licensing.. so all restaurants and cafes are meant to now offer a separately priced menu which includes the 10% loading for staff WITHIN the dish price, rather than tacked onto the bill at the end. It makes no sense, but that's the new law.

  10. @Anonymous - ah, so that's why the prices were so odd, because we ate there on a Sunday. It's the first time I've encountered the separate menu, though, so it's good to know.

  11. It's pricey but you can't quite compare the experience (and especially not the prices) to Chinatown or Cabra. Looks like an interesting menu :)

  12. Wow Bel, everything sure looks very delicious.
    Have a wonderful weekend :)

  13. Happy bday to your partner! Looks really delish but seems quite exy!