As a child visiting your Auntie’s house, did you ever get the sense there was something familiar about the sounds and smells, but it just wasn’t the same as being at home? You loved it just as much as home, mostly because the treats were better.
This familial analogy is what it’s like at Hello Auntie in Darling Square. It looks like a Vietnamese restaurant, with its beautiful French inspired decor, the scent of star anise wafting from the kitchen and the menu contains some Vietnamese classics. But all up, it’s just a bit different, it’s beyond amazing and the treats are substantially better.
The new space at Darling Square is even more inviting than the award winning sister venue in Marrickville. Here, the team continue to bring together the flavour of Vietnam with contemporary cooking techniques, high quality ingredients and inspiration from other cuisines – but it’s pushed just a bit further.
For instance, the black kingfish sashimi with wasabi vinaigrette, radish and grapes. Not your traditional Vietnamese fair, no, but the dish hints at tradition with crisp freshness and burst of zest that Vietnames food brings to the table. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
Now, the hot wings are a standout favourite. Here’s the not so secret, secret…the dish includes tripe! The hot wings come with crispy honeycomb tripe and are gluten free. Instead of pushing the tripe around your plate, we practically guarantee you’ll be fighting over the last piece. Gone are the days of soggy tripe that you could thwack a fellow misbehaving relative with, these are crunchy and full of spicy flavour. This was a real surprise and must order. Do not shy away from the tripe, you won’t regret it.
The duck and porcini gyoza, charred miso and demi glaze is a fine mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, French and Italian. Like everything on the menu, you’ll have never tasted this before and you’ll realise you’ve fallen in love after your first bite. The sauce is plentiful and the demi glaze adds another level of sophistication, these are not your usual gyoza. So don’t skip them thinking you can get them anywhere, these are unique.
Hello Auntie does cocktails – and also has a happy hour (winning). There may not be a better post-work venue on this side of town for a cocktail (or four) with your favourite pals, and a selection from the comprehensive graze menu for some delicious, quick and fulfilling bites.
As we progress through the menu, the green papaya, mango, carrot, pea, basil and cured beef salad is the stuff that people on diets dream of. You don’t make friends with salad has been a proud catch cry for a long time, but this salad is likely the most popular kid at school. The cured beef, served just like in Vietnam, delivers a depth of texture to the crunch and snap of the salad.
The ground wagyu with thin egg noodles, tomato miso, basil and padano is a Vietnamese take on spaghetti bolognese – and it may be better than its Italian counterpart. This is a magical combination, made more so as we’re told the chef’s parents weren’t sure how to make traditional bolognese and so made this version based on the flavours they’d tasted adding their own perspective. This version is perfect in every way. Mouth feel is like bolognese even with the slightly greasy lip – but no weighty after effect and no need to nap. The wagyu is touch of luxury and melts in your mouth.
The piece de resistance, though, is the traditional ban xeo – a coconut and turmeric crepe, with onion and bean sprouts. The crepe theatrically arrives on a platform to tower over the dishes, both literally and figuratively. The incredibly helpful and delightful team slice the ban xeo and instruct us how to eat it. Unlike other ban xeo’s the crepe doesn’t get soggy; rather it’s crunch after crunch after crunch. Fresh, delicious and filling and it’s a meal that creates such a stir in the restaurant everyone orders it.
Dessert changes regularly and we enjoyed the ouzo tart, vanilla crust with whipped cream. A perfectly light and fresh end to our meal. Apparently Hello Auntie also make a durian tart and it’s worth popping back just to see if it’s available. Not having it makes us want it all the more.
The beverage list is comprehensive including cocktails, sake, liqueur, spirits, wines – red, white, sparkling and rose as well as beers you’ll find something to whet your whistle. Happy hour is between 6-7.30pm weekdays and 6-7pm on weekends, meaning there may be no better time, literally, to pay your Auntie a visit.
Hello Auntie (Darling Square),
Shop 2/16 Nicolle-Walk, Haymarket
Lunch Monday – Friday 11.30am – 3.00pm, Saturday – Sunday 12.00pm – 4.00pm
Dinner Monday – Thursday 5.30pm – 10.00pm (open to 11.00pm Friday) Saturday 6.00pm – 11.00pm, Sunday 6.00pm – 9.30pm