Named for the beautiful Ha Long Bay in Northeast Vietnam, an area known for emerald green waters and thousands of tiny limestone islands, Ha Long Vietnamese Restaurant is a fairly ordinary spot on Enmore Road. Housed in a characterless modern brick, three-storey block, it’s part of the shifting face of medium density Newtown.
We’re only dining because we emerged from a sake tasting class at P & V Wine + Liquor starving, unable to wait out the queues at the more popular restaurants over the road, like Stinking Bishops and Chinese Dumpling Master. Ha Long’s modest dining room is empty, bar for a smiling Bà (grandmother) sitting in one corner.
They’re putting out simple, home-style Vietnamese, including the ubiquitous Crispy Pancake ($15.90). It’s golden, it’s crisp, and it arrives quickly, much to the happiness of my starving dining companion, though he’s not quite as impressed by the bathrooms.
“Those bathrooms are stabby mcstab stab,” my tipsy dining companion says, after taking endless corridor turns to a toilet that he thinks, “looks like somewhere you might die.” I cross my legs and try not to giggle. I'm soon distracted by rolling little fingers of Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf ($22.90) up into Vietnamese rice paper rolls with the accompanying bean sprouts, vermicelli noodles, average greens and pickles. The carrot pickle lacks the lightness of touch I usually associate with Vietnamese pickles, coming off too sweet; and the low quality beef lacks the smoky, lemongrass intensity I was craving.
Lured into Stuffed Squid ($14.90) by a good menu photo, in the resulting dish, the tube of stuffed squid is barely visible at all. The squid is chewy and the stuffing largely flavourless. The whole thing drowned in a thick, bready batter.
There are many better places to eat Vietnamese food in Sydney.
Ha Long Vietnamese Restaurant
80a Enmore Road, Enmore
Ph: (0411) 447 285