What a joy it was to bury my nose in the fragrant Vietnamese herb garden that arrived with the Chao Tom ($20) grilled prawn paste!
An Nam serve up a well-balanced, subtle version of this perennial Viet favourite in a French provincial setting with shaded chandeliers and a classic colonial era sliding screen that cleverly weaves in their logo.
Well-connected owner Sonia Cru’s enthusiasm for home style Vietnamese dishes inspired me to try her favourite, Hanoi style Grilled Bass Groper ($18). Vibrant fresh dill, coconut and turmeric shine on the nicely-charred but tender fish pieces, paired with an intriguing pineapple dipping sauce. It’s very well-matched by the lemon/lime flavours of a Lengs & Cooter 2008 Watervale Riesling ($26).
The lovely Riesling also suits the super-crisp entree of Salt and Pepper Squid ($16).
But if you want fireworks, try the under-priced Bo Kho ($18), a stunning four-hour beef stew, rich with five spice and cinnamon, served up with rice noodles and springy bean sprouts. Hunks of melt-in the mouth beef combine with even-softer sweet pumpkin, with crisp sprouts providing welcome relief.
After the intensity, a Claret Cobbler ($12) cocktail with vodka and Framboise dishes up all the sweetness I need.
An Nam Bar & Grill
Shop 6B, 431 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9380 8007