A new restaurant by Andrew Duong promises to challenge assumptions about Asian food. This is Miss Van’s.
And given his string of successes with Miss Van’s Street Food, Lazy Su and Baby Su, it also promises to attract a fast fan base.
The funky new restaurant facing Marcus Clarke Street from the CityWest parking lot will give Andrew a permanent home and a chance to show off his well-trained hospitality skills and his young and well-qualified new team, which includes chef Adam Hazleton (f. -Aubergine and ex-Pulp Kitchen via London), Deputy Brandon Hardiman (ex-Corella) and Bar Manager Michael Nguyen (ex-Molly and AHA’s Bartender of the Year 2019).
The theme “Old Ways meets New Traditions” is characterized by the menu, which offers dishes that can best be described as New Asian.
Think spring rolls with wild mushrooms, palm heart and vermicelli, grilled king prawns with tomato curry and seafood oil and a dessert with Vietnamese coffee-salted caramel, condensed milk ice cream, wild rice and cocoa nib.
Andrews modernized and exemplary banh mi still pops up on the lunch menu with cha lua, fried pork, chicken parfait, pickles and herbs for the carnivores and lemongrass & garlic stuffing, pickles and herbs for the plant-based diners.
While Andrew hopes to be able to offer takeaways once he’s put things in, his new Miss Van’s is about long lunches and set dinners that can be enjoyed – either at long tables with friends or intimate high bar tables near all the action that takes place in the kitchen.
With 16 seats outside on a long wooden terrace, while another 50 inside enjoy the luxurious tropical surroundings, thanks to a large and lovely comfortable curved banquet upholstered in a velvet jungle motif, the entire glass façade of the restaurant rolls back to take advantage of the fresh air and street scene.
The wine list features seven glass labels, while a selection of fun Australian natural products, classics and international standouts fill the bottle. Miss Van’s also boasts a very enticing cocktail list, which combined with the inviting deck makes summer afternoons a very fun offer.
The ‘Poetic Justice’ cocktail features Starward Two Fold, passion fruit, earl gray, honey and C02 soda, while the ‘Swimming Pools’ feature Batanga Blanco, apricot, lemongrass, orange blossom, lemon and prosecco. Embracing the growing desire for non-alcoholic cocktails, there is also ‘Good Kid’ with mango and coconut cream with ginger, lemon and soda and a ‘Sing About Me’ with strawberry and pomegranate reduction, Thai basil, Sichuan, lime and tonic.
With his Vietnamese Laos heritage, which was influenced by his family’s experiences in Thai refugee camps, Andrew wants to steer clear of the notion that authentic Asian food should be cheap. “Authentic restaurants owned by immigrants and their descendants are discriminated against and forced to underestimate their food – leading to owners paying too little for themselves and their staff,” he said.
He wants to change the stereotype that Asian food is fast and cheap, and instead hopes to help customers enjoy the traditional tastes, intricacies and heart of his food.
“I want people to understand that a banh mi has more than 10 ingredients, many of them handmade and laborious to produce. A plate of avo and two eggs on toast costs up to $ 14, but a banh mi is mandatory. less than $ 10, otherwise it’s a ripoff. “
Andrew launches the restaurant at the more serious end of the Canberra restaurant scene, while still retaining the sense of fun and warmth that has made him a much-loved local figure.
It was 16-year-old Andrew who one day hoped to open his own restaurant and translate his family’s tradition of honoring taste and sharing good food into practice. Now 38, Andrew could not be more excited to open the doors and welcome new customers.
“I have honestly wanted to do this for more than 20 years, but have been reconsidered along the way with other projects, all for good reasons, and all of which have given me the experience and learning to reach this place.”
Miss Van’s opens today.
What: Miss Van’s
Where: Store 4, 113-119 Marcus Clarke Street Civic
When: Breakfast Thursday-Sunday, dinner Wednesday-Saturday
All photos by Rohan Thompson from Pew Pew Studios