Hello Auntie, serves traditional Vietnamese food, but in a modern context.
In the kitchen with Cuong is his mum, Linda Tran. The food at Hello Auntie isn’t made exactly from his mum’s recipes, but it isn’t fusion either, a word Nguyen isn’t a fan of. He says the difference isn’t in the style but in the ingredients and the delivery.
The only thing not done in-house is the noodles. The other point of difference is the service and décor. There is wooden benchtops, dim lighting and a team of waitstaff which seems genuinely enthusiastic about the food. At the centre of the menu is the barbeque. Almost all of Nguyen’s dishes feature pork, beef or seafood that’s been spiced and grilled with a live flame. The rice paper roll kit comes with a massive spread including whole prawns, chicken skewers, spring rolls and beef wrapped in betel leaves.
The pho is based on Tran’s traditional stock (the restaurant is only doing beef), the recipe for which is unknown even to Nguyen. The meat is braised short rib that is torched for a smoky flavour reminiscent of Japanese buri. There is also banh xeo (crispy pancakes) and banh khot (Vietnamese pikelets). There is a small range of cocktails and live flairing on Saturdays.