A last minute decision to eat out for dinner instead of cooking at home on the last day of a holiday, I ended up playing phone tag with the staff from Red Lantern. I wouldn't have guessed it, but they were almost fully booked on a Sunday night, and they could only fit in a table for two between 6pm and 8pm. I saw three couples turn up to try and get a table as a "walk in", and they were refused, so we were quite lucky to have grabbed a table.
The mains were $25-$35; the entrees were all just under $20. There was a 10% Sunday surcharge, and quite a few specials on the menu.
The food was really tasty ... I got to try :
1. soft shell crab with a tomato, cucumber, grapefruit (little yellow citrus wedges) and vietnamese herb salad (the dressing was quite sweet, but you needed a little bit more so you could dip the crab into more sauce. Also maybe a touch more salt;
2. beef lemongrass wrapped in betel leaves and on a bed of vermicilli. Very tasty, but with the smells of this dish and the crab one, I found this one almost offensive. When you smelled it on its own, it was okay, and smelled quite nice.
3. Shallow fried snapper with a sweet sour sauce (also a bit of green papaya salad). Yummo. I felt like I ate a lot of crunchy stuff. The sauce was nice, the fish was delicious and I crunched the smaller bones (and fins), the flesh was really tasty and still had some give.
We had a similar dish at our local thai restaurant and it was terrible!! the fish then had been deep fried for too long, and the whole thing was tough (deepfried), and rubbery.
4. Organic choy sum with a preserved (fermented) beencurd sauce. L liked this one and suggested that we buy a jar of the fermented bean curd to try and make it! That's the stuff in the jar that looks like cheese and smells ferocious
5. Green tea.
and yes... I did take a few pictures. I felt like I ate a lot of crunchy stuff - I wish the waiter had commented on that so that I could've had a rethink of the menu choices.
Post post note: Red Lantern Surry Hills has closed. However there is an alternative location in Darlinghurst
street: 60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010.