Yellow Fever is a next-generation Vietnamese eatery. Like Hello Auntie, Chao Ba, Số9 and Hem Nine Nine it repackages the cuisine with a youthful, modern approach. “In Australia Vietnamese food is deemed to be the cheap and easy meal. The restaurants have menus like encyclopedias. [Here] everything is prepared fresh, nothing is frozen, and we just serve three items done well,” says Anthony Nguyen, Yellow Fever’s co-owner, who’s joined in the venture by partner and fellow hospitality newcomer Rosie Nguyen.
There are a few more items on the menu, but the three he’s referring to are the lunch mainstays – vermicelli salad, rice paper rolls and bánh mì. The latter is the house specialty. “Our lead is the charcoal grill. All our meat is marinated for 24 hours and then we cook it on the charcoal grill,” says Anthony. At $8 on a strip with several old-school $5 bánh mì shops, it might turn a few heads, but call it a sandwich and it’ll suddenly seem cheap. The Nguyens say it’s about changing people’s perception of the value in the cuisine.
The Vietnamese Brekkie Roll is their most recent sandwich experiment. It’s inspired by bánh mì op la, a popular Vietnamese roll with ham and runny eggs. Yellow Fever’s version uses the same elements (grilled Spam) and adds Sriracha mayo, pickles and coriander. “The spam sounds crazy but it's something we grew up with for breakfast. It’s so good,” says Rosie.
The other difference is the context it’s served in. The space is a far cry from the others in the area that have faded bakery façades and plastic tentacles for curtains. It’s a simple but slick cafe with natural light, a feature wall of Vietnamese news clippings and, most importantly, good coffee (both iced Vietnamese and espresso from Little Marionette. It also serves a breakfast menu with muesli, and bread and pastries from Brickfields. “We'll be doing weekly specials as well. One is a burger or roll with bò kho (Vietnamese beef stew), pulled-pork style,” says Anthony. “We’ll also do phở and bún bò huế (spicy-beef noodle soup) in winter.” There’s also plans for taro-flavoured coffees.
There are not strict rules for the Nguyens on what Vietnamese food is or how it should be served; they’re here to have fun with the cuisine. Part of that is their irreverent approach to the cafe’s name. “We didn't want to pick a typical Vietnamese name, so we thought we'd take the piss out of ourselves. That's our branding, we're young and just trying to be inviting,” says Anthony.
133 Regent Street, Redfern
0410 577 266
Mon to Fri 6.30am–3pm