Thy Nguyen’s family has been serving classic Vietnamese dishes to the people of Adelaide for more than a decade. It operates Rundle Street mainstays Chopstix and Lemongrass and, until recently, also ran a second Chopstix location on Glen Osmond Road. With her parents retiring, Thy and husband Quang Nguyen (Shibui, Third Time Lucky, Devour) are relaunching the latter site as Noi Vietnamese Eatery, a modern “family restaurant” sharing their contemporary take on classic home-style dishes.
It’s a true family affair; Thy’s siblings Phong and Toan, and Toan’s wife, Nhi are also partners in the new venture.
Quang describes Noi Vietnamese Eatery as, “an homage to what we grew up on”. “The way our parents cooked is super old-school and super delicious,” says Thy. The menu will offer that nostalgic experience, refreshed with “our versions and techniques,” says Quang. “It’s the first time we’ll see this style of food in Adelaide.”
The kitchen fit-out includes a custom-made woodfired grill that will turn out the majority of the restaurant’s seafood and meat dishes. “A lot of street food in Vietnam is cooked on wood, and we want to make a big point of that,” says Quang. “We’ll be updating the classic lemongrass chicken [with a] half bird or whole bird cooked on wood, which is very different from what you’d expect from a restaurant, but true to what you’d find at home. The biggest thing for me will be the sugarcane pork and sugarcane prawns. Doing them over wood will make a big difference to the flavour.”
Those hoping to cop a lick of Quang’s famous desserts will be pleased to learn his homemade ice-cream and other sweet specialties will also make an appearance.
The Nguyens are also giving the building a fashionable refresh. A significant remodel is underway; the large central bar is being pushed to one side to open up the dining room. They’re also making a waiting area by the entrance.
The main space will be fitted out with bench seating and large tables that can be “jigsawed” together to accommodate groups large or small. “The building can be very dark,” says Thy, so introducing “light wood with some other neutral colours” will make it more inviting.
One existing feature that’s being retained is a small atrium. Thy’s parents were once market gardeners, and she’s creating a herb garden as a nod to their legacy. It will provide herbs, chillies and other ingredients for the kitchen. “We wanted to turn it into something that’s really functional, and a standout [element] of the restaurant,” she says.
As well as the 80-seat restaurant, there’s also a function room. “That’s phase two,” Quang says. Once the main business is up and running, the team will look at renovating it into a space for parties and corporate events. With the grand opening planned for November, Noi Vietnamese Eatery should hit its stride just in time for the festive season.