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HomeFoodBao chicka wow wow! Meet the new Vietnamese joint in Manly

Bao chicka wow wow! Meet the new Vietnamese joint in Manly

Introducing Duc Tai Nguyen and Minh Thu Train, a Fairlight couple with a love of Vietnamese cooking who have just opened their first restaurant Vietnam Why Not? in Manly.

We visited recently on the strong recommendation of a reader, Steve, who had a very positive first time experience and several more even more positive experiences as a returning, fully paying and unaffiliated patron.

Vietnam Why Not owners Duc Tai Nguyen and Minh Thu Train

“Today we visited ‘Vietnam Why Not’, which is next to Fratelli Fresh and in the same location as the earlier Vietnamese restaurant. They opened just this Wednesday, and the food is authentic Vietnamese,” he teased.

This was November, and finally, come one unseasonably cool grey February evening, we managed to steal a moment, grab the kids, and find ourselves a comfortable outdoor corner table early on a Monday.

Cha gio – deep fried spring roll homemade pork Northern Style.

Straight to the powerhouses – these starters were exceptional. The spring rolls! Cha gio – deep fried pork (or veg or prawn and crab) spring rolls  n the Northern Style ($13.50). Hand made that day and packed with umami and just the right crunch, these seemed impossible to beat until the other starter – the pork bao. Uber soft buns with a sticky sweet crunchy roasted pork and crackling and a good dose of freshness from daikon, carrot and coriander for balance, these remained the highlight once a little sriracha was added to the hoisin. It’s one of those dishes I’ve since ound myself mulling over these during random moments of mind wandering.

Roasted pork and crackling Bao.

Another hit was Green rice crusted prawns coated with a layer of green rice flakes ($16.50).

The mains were all impressive – like home cooking with the host’s best ingredients, though I was surprised by the lack of heat and general mildness in most dishes. This makes it more palatable for the little ones and heat-shy diners, but for those who like to work up a sweat with their south East Asian food you’ll be using their chilli sauces and may wish to ask for a side of the fresh stuff.

We enjoyed the Ca ri ga Chicken curry ($19.50). The bright and very cocunutty Banh Leo Vietnamese Pancake with chicken and prawn ($22.50) was very rich, which balanced well with Mi Xao Giỡn Crispy Egg noodle with stir fried beef and vegetables ($22.50). All needed heat added.

The menu is generous and, particularly for Manly, very affordable. Most economically impressive was the top quality kids’ fish and chips at just $9 which was a generous portion and much better than your standard.

A strong finish with a banana bread and butter pudding (main image) and my eldest’s first deep fried ice cream and we all left full (but not ergh full), and very happy. I’d return for the pudding alone, and it’s just $12 and served with creamy coconut sauce, crushed peanuts, and vanilla ice cream.

Room for big groups or moving space for young families for an early dinner – the outdoor space at Vietnam Why Not.

Beautifully decorated with lanterns from the homeland, clean and spacious with enthusiastic and talented sets of hands both in the kitchen and on the floor, this little venture is definitely worth getting behind.

Good for dates, good for meetings, good for families, great for Manly.

Why not indeed.


Open 7 days, 11.30am-9pm. BYO (wine only $6 a glass)

Shop 5, 54-68 West Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095

Phone : (02) 8021 1906

Email : info@vietnamwhynot.com.au

While our informant Steve was a fully paying guest, we were provided chef’s choice of dishes to review free of charge. The review, however, is not sponsored and words are the author’s true impressions.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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