When mama told me I could pick anywhere I wanted to go for dinner for a special occasion I knew exactly where I wanted to eat – Red Lantern on Riley. That’s because I love Luke Nguyen because he’s one of my food heroes. That’s not just because he can cook really yummy looking food, but also because he travels all over the place for his TV Show and will eat ANYTHING!
Luke is so brave he even ate a snake on his show but he also ate stuff like salt and pepper prawns and rice paper rolls… which looked a lot tastier. At Red Lantern On Riley, they don’t have snake on the menu. Which I’m kind of relieved about because I don’t know if I’d really want to try that. Instead we ate the most deliciously awesome food which I can’t stop thinking about.
Firstly you should know that Vietnamese food always uses sweet, salty, sour and hot flavours for balance and there are lots of textures and crunch in the dishes. I love that. Red Lantern on Riley is all about that texture and flavour.
We started with Rice Paper rolls (Cuon Thit Nuong) that were filled with honey pork neck and herbs and were so good that I moaned so loudly while I ate them, my mama had to remind me to be quiet.
Then mama and dad had a tangy green papaya salad (Goi Du Du) which I nicked all the prawns and pork belly off. Yum.
The (Goi Chim Cut) was so spicy it made my eyeballs burst and my tongue burst into flame. It was pretty tasty though and its salad had beetroot, carrot, and other crunchy stuff, which was really good. Mama and dad liked this one so much I had to remind them not to moan so loud while they ate it. I’d advise you to have a big glass of icy water beside you if you order this.
One of my favourite dishes was the chilli-salted squid (Muc Rang Muoi). It had a light batter which was really crispy and delicious and the squid was really tender. OMG!! I could eat a hundred plates of this and still want more.
Next was a pancake which I didn’t think sounded very Vietnamese but I was so, so wrong! This wasn’t like any pancake I’ve ever seen before. It (Banh Xeo) was an epic pancake that was crispy instead of soft and chock full of prawns and pork belly and bean sprouts. It also came with fresh lettuce leaves and herbs like mint to eat with it… so good!
For mains we had spatchcock (Ga Goi Chien Don) which had really crispy skin and sauce that was made from ginger and sesame and was totally yum. The spatchcock was like really awesome chicken. It was very soft and fell apart in my mouth and the flavours were the best.
The other main was salmon (Ca Kho), which is my favourite fish ever. The menu said it was served with caramel which sounded kinda gross but they didn’t mean actual caramel.
It was a little sweet and sticky but it also had chilli and black pepper which made it explode with flavour. Oh yeah!!! My sister stole most of the little crunchy crackers that came with it and my mama didn’t even get to taste it because my dad and I attacked it like two lions fighting over their prey. It was that good. (allegedly).
The staff were super nice to me and even let me sneak a peak into the kitchen. Red Lantern on Riley was so, so, so fantastic that I left high-kicking like a ninja.
I’m going to have to drag mama back here for lunch during the next school holidays so I can eat this all over again.
Reviewed by Raffles – Aged 7
(bracketed comments by his mama)
Red Lantern on Riley
60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Ph: 02 9698 4355
Note: This meal was independently paid for.