On my same trip to Canberra that I visited PUBLIC MANUKA I needed a place to eat on the following night, the food in the hotel restaurant was sub par and I do like to explore and find some delectable goods that can embrace the paleo. Considering at PUBLIC I ate fajitas and other non paleo indulgences I had to be more strict this time. I also spent a fortune at PUBLIC and this time wanted something cheap that allowed BYO. I searched Urban Spoon – my go to place to locate restaurants and searched the best in Manuka and Griffith in ACT – the one that caught my eye was GRIFFITH VIETNAMESE – so off I went.
GRIFFITH VIETNAMESE was less than a five minute drive from the hotel in the little shopping area of Griffith, a very residential area, it looked more like the “local shops” and on the edge of the street was the more upmarket looking AUBERGINE – a restaurant on my list. From the amount of restaurants in Griffith I know I must have just ventured into a small section of it. This Manuka/ Griffith area so far would be my most recommended area of ACT – kind of a calmer Paddington-like area with funky shops and a vast array of amazing venues and food.
GRIFFITH VIETNAMESE is a small shop and a basic layout, they are not in it for decor, they are in it for the food and the venue. It is busy and it is fast paced and it is not the quietest, there is no carpet or mats, no table cloths and nothing to soften the talking of other patrons, the cooking and the staff. At 6pm on a Wednesday it was packed and there were people waiting outside for takeaway. As I was a single eater a table was found for me immediately, pretty much in front of the register. There were some large tables of people and I saw about a dozen people denied a walk-in table for the eating, most of them took takeaway instead.
The walls are lined with thank you notes from patrons, most of them apparently politicians and sportsman and also their regulars, I did not recognise any of the names, there was one in a prime position by itself from “Kevin” and I do believe it was Mr 07 himself, but none of the others – was hoping to find Abbott’s so I could use it as toilet paper.
Most of the staff are gorgeous early 20s Vietnamese guys who really looked after me, the service was faultless, my water was filled every few moments, I poured my own wine but everything was presented as soon as I sat down. One staff member came up to ask where I was from “you look like an out of towner, what brings you to Canberra?” My book and single visitor status spoke volumes. He was truly interested when he found out I was there servicing cinemas, my day job, and he spoke that he had been to both the cinemas I was visiting, he wished me the best and thanked me for visiting their establishment.
I discussed with another waiter how long they had been operating for – it was 13-14yrs and in his words “we think we are doing something right.” Damn straight you were – the place was packed and it was not a lingering dining venue, they could turn out many tables throughout the night.
The food choices are abundant and the food is very Vietnamese/ Chinese inspired. Lots of sizzling plates, braised dishes and the like – over 100 items to choose from PLUS the specials – here is the menu.
Besides traditional raw Vietnamese dishes being sparse the one thing a good Vietnamese restaurant needs is Pho, and Griffith Vietnamese does not serve it, in fact, it is pretty much the only complaints I have read of the place. They make all their food so well, I can only imagine how good a Pho would be!
I ate GOI TOM THIT for my entree, a refreshing dish made up of finely shredded carrot, cabbage, celery, capsicum, with prawns, chicken dressed with special vinegar sauce. It was a winner, a beautifully fresh salad to start that was crispy and filled with abundant goodness. Foodgasm experienced! (Cost $7-) – I repeat SEVEN DOLLARS!!!
For my main I had a sizzling plate from the specials, from my receipt they named it YUMMY LAMB ($23) and the vegetables still had crunch, the balance of sauce, meat and vegetables was divine and my only recommendation – WAIT FOR IT TO COOL a bit – was so keen to dig in I grabbed some sizzling meat with the chopsticks and burned my tongue. I just ate no rice or noodles and paleo won for me. I am certain the sauce had some sugar in it, but I will live with that as O M G – it was so worth it.
I was in and out in under 30mins. If going here with a group do not expect to make an evening out of it, make sure you meet for pre-drinks somewhere or have a place to go after. I am returning at the end of April to Canberra and will most definitely be returning with my Canberra besties, the Schmollinghams, to GRIFFITH VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT.
Food and staff are the winning ingredient here!
Score: Service 5 spoons, Food 5 spoons, Cost 5 spoons and Venue, 3 spoons. Total………………….