The Fountain Street block has been one of Sydney’s great suburban eating hubs since it first opened with Bread and Circus in 2012. The latest entrant is Nguyen Brothers. The name refers to Yen and Le Nguyen. Marrickville residents will recognise them as the owners and chefs of popular restaurant, Yen for Viet. They probably wouldn’t recognise the new restaurant, though.
The brothers have invested a lot in a modish fit out that’s a far cry from the typical, casual Sydney-Vietnamese style that Yen for Viet is an example of. Interior-design firm Blank Creatives has mixed herringbone, brass and mid-century furniture – the stylish, semi-comfortable kind you find in the living rooms of young professionals, to fit Fountain Street’s concrete semi-industrial space. “The features of the building had to be kept. I wanted it to be modern but still Vietnamese,” says Nguyen.
“We always talked about [opening a new restaurant], but we weren't ready. We wanted to do it right and now we have the support we need.” That support is the rest of the Nguyen family. “Recently my parents sold their business in Vietnam and they migrated here. My mum and dad help prepare. My auntie and my uncle help out too,” says Nguyen.
Their aunt is to thank for the restaurant’s perfectly gelatinous, steamed tapioca dumplings, a dish hard to find outside of Sydney’s west. The new menu also features a part of Vietnamese cuisine that is absent from Yen for Viet, barbequed meat. The brothers have installed a small chargrill for skewered meats and make charred pork and sugar-cane prawn sticks for the restaurant’s DIY rice-paper-roll kit. Fans of the original Marrickville restaurant will be pleased to find Yen’s Vietnamese pancake, for which the pork belly is stewed in young coconut juice; and the extremely popular caramelised-fish clay pot appears here, too.
In the next few weeks the brothers, licence pending, will introduce a mix of Asian beers, local guys Batch Brewing Company and a short list of Asian-inspired cocktails. “They will be classic. I'm not going to go crazy,” says Nguyen. The most exciting thing to look forward to is the brothers’ idea to introduce a Vietnamese-style takeaway worker dinner in tiffin carriers. Each layer of the staggered aluminium boxes will have rice, stir-fried greens and a varying main. “You can keep the container and when you have lunch, drop it here. I'll fill it up and you can pick it up at 5pm when you go home. That's my plan,” says Nguyen.
Shop 5 &, 6/21 Fountain Street, Alexandria
(02) 8964 1558
Mon to Sat 10.30am – 3pm, 5.30pm – 9:30pm
Sun 10.30am – 3.30pm