New Vietnam Cafe
New Vietnam Café is owned by a Vietnamese person, has a Hong Kong chef and we were served by a Malaysian waiter – a true “Asian melting pot” of staff! We weren’t sure if the food would suffer for it, but our waiter put us onto his recommendations for lunch, and they were excellent!
If you haven’t been to Hurstmere Road in Takapuna lately, then you will be amazed at the transformation in the new and renovated shops. Looks rather like the street frontages of part of Broadway in Newmarket, but I digress. New Vietnam Café is located in a new side mall or arcade which houses a number of other Asian restaurants, including one offering the infamous Puffer Fish (deadly if prepared incorrectly!).
We had no intentions of dicing with death – rather my friend and I wanted to reminisce about our shared trip to Vietnam several years ago, and hoped that the New Vietnam Café would help to take us on our sentimental journey.
The menu is divided into various noodle soups and noodle dishes, rice dishes, fried egg noodles, wok-fried dishes and congee. On the advice of our Malaysian waiter, we ordered lemongrass chicken on vermicelli ($9.80), beef with black pepper sauce ($12) and a delicious chicken dish with a special sauce, Gungbo chicken ($18). We ordered more than we needed, but such are the sacrifices in the cause of research!
All the dishes were delicious. The lemongrass chicken was thin pieces of chicken with the fresh flavour of lemongrass and had the zingy sweet/sour/spicy/salty dressing for which Vietnamese dishes are known. The beef was tender and the pepper sauce was a welcome change from the more usual black bean. The surprise was the chicken dish in the special sauce, which we believe was the Gungbo chicken (since our waiter ordered for us, we were not entirely sure of his explanation!). Not sure if it was a traditional Vietnamese dish or not, but do try it.
We drank several pots of tea during our social lunch, and our waiter happily put the leftover food in containers for us to take with us.
We were told that the chef will prepare a special Vietnamese menu for a group, so I recommend that you get some friends together and ask them to do this for you (in advance).
New Vietnam also offers the popular Vietnamese sandwiches on a French bread roll, a convenient and cheap lunch at only $6.50.
Next time you are browsing the shops in Takapuna, take a break at New Vietnam Café – and if anyone tries the Puffer Fish restaurant next door, do let us know!