Monday, 14 February 2011

A rose by any other name.......Sapa Rose

Green papaya salad with herbed beef, above

Spring rolls, above

Duck stuffed prawns, above

Beef curry on vermicelli noodles, above

Good luck with trying to read your bill, above! It's written in Vietnamese, but don't worry, you get the English printed out version as well, with everything professionally itemised!

You will all know how hard it is to find somewhere decent to eat in Hobart on a Sunday night. I feel constantly sorry for visitors to our fair state when they stupidly assume they’re in a state of Australia, where one could reasonably expect to be able to forage for a reasonable choice of food in the capital city on a Sunday night! Wrong! It’s slim pickings generally in Hobart on a Sunday night

Thanks to the fabulous Sapa Rose, not only are we now supplied with more than decent food on a Sunday night, but also every other day of the week as well! God knows where owner/chef /FOH supervisor Huang thinks he’s going to get the time to spend with his wife and new baby (due next week) but the opening hours of this new eatery are Mon – Sun, 11.00 am till 9 or 10 pm.

Mind you, we (= Victor, Reb and Rita) didn’t go there because we had nowhere else to go. We’re food lovers, for heavens sake! We’re also food bloggers – and what better way to spend an evening than in the company of people who share a passion!

So there we were: chopsticks in hand, banging on the table, ‘Bring it on’ Huang!

And so he did – a beautiful cross section of some Vietnamese dishes fit for kings and queens, such as we are!

Bought out and shared by all of us were:
*Green papaya salad with herbed beef $18 - fabulous
*Vietnamese spring rolls (6), we had the selection: chicken, prawn, pork, vegetarian ($9) served with lettuce leaves and dipping sauce as per pancake below. Cigar sized.
*Vietnamese crispy pancake ($15) with prawns, pork, onion and bean shoots inside, served with lettuce leaves and fish dipping sauce. You’re meant to get a portion of the pancake (or spring roll, see above), pop it into a lettuce leaf, roll it up and dip into the fish sauce. This was a generous serve, similar (both in colour and size) to a plate-sized omelette folded in half. The pancake itself has a lovely crunchy, BBQ-y flavour which added to the enjoyment for me.
*Beef in coconut cream ($16) served on vermicelli noodles (or glass noodles)
*Prawn stuffed with duck served on sizzle platter with hot and sour sauce ($28). You’d think it would be the other way round, but no!
*Sapa Rose salted prawns ($22) – similar to a salt and pepper squid, or prawn, dish, with the prawns lightly battered, and served dry.

I loved every dish for different reasons. I will most definitely return there frequently, for both takeaways, and in-house dining.

Huang only reduces the takeaway prices by $1 for each dish, so it’s no big deal to eat in or out. Also his wines (it’s not BYO), according to my dining companions, are extremely cheap.

The renovation of the restaurant from its recent bakery and cafe history to Vietnamese eatery is striking and manages to convey the Asian feeling effectively. The new waitstaff need more experience in the art of restaurant work and customer service, but in the scheme of things, that’s a mere annoyance in the midst of highly enjoyable food, and will be rectified with more experience.

Well done Huang, and a big warm welcome to the city food scene.
Traditional Vietnamese food, fully licensed
77-81 Harrington Street (next door to Khaow Thai, opposite Little Bali)
6234 3806
**See Victor's excellent pics and review here, and Reb's here......
You can check this one out safely - it's not anywhere near the Granada, it's close to Liverpool St, and the food should provide you with some light relief from Dom's!
Posted on by Rita


GL said...

Great to finally have a Vietnamese in Hobart! Yay!

Rita said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you GL!

Ted said...

Looks like it's a little more Vietnamese than the Vietnamese kitchen :)

I grabbed a menu the other day as I went past. Just a tad pricey for a regular public servants lunch option which most of the other eateries in that area cater to. But I hope it does well in that location.

FYI, Little Bali is no more, the sign is still up but the premises have been gutted.

Rita said...

Hey Ted - I never even consider Vietmanese Kitchen as a Vietnamese restaurant! It's Asian, and pretty poor Asian at that. I used to love their Laksa, many years ago, but haven't been there for ages since the standard dropped alarmingly.

I did think the prices at SR a bit high for your usual lunchtime PS crowd from the area, but I hope that doesn't stop them patronising it. Maybe a payday treat!

See my Gossip column for Little Bali comment.

reb said...

Well said Rita.

The spring rolls were the highlight for me.

sir grumpy said...

Bowled up to Khaow Thai two weeks ago wiv missus and it was shut. Have eaten there before and like it and the friendly staff.

It was a Saturday arvo but. Ended up at Vima's or Vina's at Sandy Bay. opposite Coles (it bills itself as Vietnamese).
We did not like the grub at all.
Nearly went to Dom's last night but instead made a Szechuan chilli chicken dish at home with nice medium grain rice.
Touch of Asia let me down on Saturday with the fattiest chicken ever. Managed to scoff half the wife's much nicer satay chook.
First time I've had a bad meal there. The Szechuan chilli beef there is one of the best I've ever had.
The sauce and veggies were brill on Saturday but that chicken. All skin and fat, don't know what the chef was thinking.It was very busy, in his defence.
But that's only one poor one out of DOZENS (multiple dozens), so I'll be back for some Vietnamese Chicken, Crispy Sking Chicken or Roast Duck there soon.
And I will try the new Vietnamese place Rita.
Sorry to bore you with the above but I wanted to show that I DO actuall get around a wee bit.

steve said...

Glad you are better, out and about and that your tastebuds have obviously returned-and so has the Hobart Restaurant Bitch BTW

Victor said...

Rita - it's great dining out with you and reading your review too.

"Hobart Restaurant Bitch BTW" Steve - you cracked me up. Actually I was surprised Rita was quite well behaved. But, at one time she cracked up laughing so loud when she read the menu. You guess it - spelling error that changed the meaning of the dish. LOL. Ask her when you speak/see her next time.

steve said...

Hey Victor, we both know rita can be a snarky bitch at times (sorry Rita, now you're beter the gloves are off ha ha!) however this is the original bitch. see for yourself. Hobarts first food blogger

sir grumpy said...

PS Rita,

Can't see any way of accepting Cartouche's wonderful invite without revealing myself (!).
You got sick around that time too, poor thing.
I have thought long and hard but I haven't even emailed you in the past, though I've been close when you were sick.
I like my anonymity but wouldn't like you or Cartouche to think I casually dismissed this offer. Far from it. Anyway, you're better off without me, i only ever eat chips.

Rita said...

Reb - are you for real? I thought you loved the Papaya salad best.
Sir G - I noticed last night that Khaow Thai had one table occupied, whereas SR was full. Probably the novelty of the new SR but KT should be a tad concerned I reckon. I know you get around Sir G.
Victor and Steve - yes, I'm back, and keeping my eye out for typos and spelling mistakes on menus - as you know - my pet hate!! Steve - yep - happy for game on again!
And thanks for the HRB heads-up. I checked her out a few months back and again, nada, but hadn't looked since then. She seems to have tamed down a fair bit, but I'm pleased she's back.
Sir G - Je suis tres desolee! This meal with Cartouche was going to absolutely make my life - what little there is left it! (See, I'll try the sympathy bid before I let this go!!)
Honestly - I don't have the faintest clue who Cartouche is either - if he pulls out as well, I'm left totally in the dark with you two - again!! Bloody men! You can always rely on them to let you down!

sir grumpy said...

How do you know I'm a man, Rita?
I know it's not politically correct but my missus tells me I'm ``an old woman''.

sir grumpy said...

PS, Hope Christina read my grovelling apology on the end of the previous post.

Rita said...

Am pretty sure she did Sir G.
And I had crazily assumed you were a bloke as you mention the Fair Lady G reasonably frequently! Plus you talk like a bloke!!

Christina said...

No need for an apology Sir G, it was all taken as it was intended I'm sure.
I love where we live and our close proximity to every thing. I always say we live 10 minutes from anywhere.
Phil and I have both said if we won lotto we wouldn't move...... but ideally I'd love to live in North Hobart!
By the way, I am SO going to Sapore Rose for that Prawn Stuffed Duck. Looks better than my Turducken I did for Christmas!

sir grumpy said...

Yes, Christina that dish looked a standout. My wife's pal moved to North Hobart and loved it for the food places and buzz.
Never stuck for a feed and such variety.
I used to live more inner city in the UK and it was great for hopping into a cab with mates for Fri, Sat adventures in food and booze (and then disco!).
In Oz the lure of the beachside suburd called, which I still like.

But because Kingston is a bit of a foodie wilderness (apart from Dom's, and Solace at B Bay and Juiced Up at Kingston), we end up in town or around Sandy Bay a lot.

I probably need a Tatts win to buy one of those houses at the back of Salamanca for long weekend use.
Fri, Sat, Sunday round town and N Hobart and back south for during the week.
Anyone have a spare million?!
PS on a holiday in the future I aim to trawl all Asian places beweeen town and Glenorchy, just to see if there is a gem we can adopt as our secret food treasure.
You know, that little unappreciated Chinese place where you discover peking duck, szechuan delights and friendly staff and using free-range chooks and stuff. Like hitting a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
We can dream.

Christina said...

Sorry Sir G but that one may definitely be a dream. We don't ind a chinese meal every now and then and have a couple of decent ones we frequent but not like you describe. best you stay in your own neck of the woods, because what your describing I have only found at Mee Wha.
Please, please, anyone correct me if I'm wrong.
When you win Tatts, Phil and I will definitely be coming for sleep overs and your Salamanca pad!

sir grumpy said...

Been to Mee Wah once. Dim sums were a bit NOT ME (shark's fin anyone _ and endless pork, pork). But I loved the fact Tassie can do this level.
We ordered plenty and the service was great. Might pop back in for me birthday. How many candles on that cake?

Christina said...

Highly recommend the Mount Buddha Chicken Sir G, Phil adores some sort of steamed crab ball thingy filled with a soupy thing. Thats a terrible description of a beautiful dish but any way it's under the entree selection. Smoked Quail very good too.
And Happy Birthday for whenever it may be!

sir grumpy said...

Aha, number one daughter has booked me into local waterfront place.
We eat so much Chinese and Asian, (really, a LOT) we thought getting back to some Euro grub might be a novel change!
That Buddha thing may get a nudge later in the week, however, thanks Christina.
The place we are going to has lots of nice beer and as I am being uplifted and deposited I can pretty much get a big Buddha's gutful of amber and have a kip late arvo before kicking on of an evening with some drinkies. I will be 23 (in my mind).

LiSh said...

at the risk of sounding pignorant ist his the viet place that was all over the radio a few weeks ago? if so it's high on the priority list, just couldn't remember who/where/when it was coming to us

TheHungryDevil said...

Agreed on great food from Sapa Rose,especially the spring rolls and mushroom duck however was let down by extremely poor service; not being asked about drinks until we had ordered, cutlery missing on the table, a bowl was taken after entree and not replaced, the western waiter was not familar with the dishes on the menu. Most of the desert items were not available and there was confusion about the bill for no good reason. Im sure these kinks will be ironed out and Sapa Rose will prove to be a great restaurant :)

The Dandy said...

"let down by extremely poor service;"

proving my point that hospitality staff are generally morons

Cartouche said...

The offer is still pending, I am absolutely serious. I will send the invite soon. Sir G, even in the most secretive of cliques there is at least some familiarity, all rely on trust. All I need from you is a leap of faith.Even journalists protect their sources. Tell you what old chum, see the invite first, if its not your cup of tea, then fair go, but if it is then I'll even bring a bottle or to of old peculiar. Ubi Fides Et Lux Et Robur.


reb said...

Grumpy, Christina,

The Bund in Shanghai is also good. Not quite up there with Mee Wah, but then the prices aren't as high as Mee Wah either.

I think all the Chinese restaurants (as well as the odd Thai and Vietnamese) get their roast duck from the Chinese Emporium in Moonah.

They're shipped in frozen from Sydney and you can snap one up for the princely sum of $25.

Just ask Paul or his wife at the counter for one.

They might not be on display, but they keep them out the back in their big freezer room.

It's like buying crystal meth*. "Hey buddy, got any duck?"

*Not that I'm inclined to do that sort of thing...

Christina said...

Thanks for that Reb, it's on our to do list for this year. have heard many good things.

BK said...

I admit to not being a great fan of Vietnamese restaurants but the dishes in the blog pictures looked a little more flavoursome than the norm so I think I'll give it a whirl. Good to see the option available!

On another note, I ventured into Piccalilly on friday for what apparently was their last night before reinventing themselves. I'd hoped that maybe they'd go out with a bang, but instead I think that they just didn't give toss. Very, very disappointing, especially given the price premium. And also not impressed by the waiter failing to recognise an obvious flaw in one of the dishes.

Anonymous said...

BK, resting on their laurels perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Mee Wah, Touch of Asia, Castle Zayee and even Vina all make their own Roast Duck

Anonymous said...

just home from dinner at sapa rose, expected fresh, lively, spicy flavours. Really disappointed,it was bland and the sauces on all four mains we had seened thick and sweet. The service was appalling. They were really busy and the wait was almost to much for some as we saw tables leave. Maybe if they reduced the menu and increased some staff(trained)the experience would have been better, even had trouble with the bill.I'm certainly not an expert but is this traditional vietnamese food?

Anonymous said...

Very sad to hear! i haven't been there yet.

Go and have a nice quiet meal at the Ivory Cafe in Elizabeth St, make sure you try the curry puffs as well as some of the great main courses and please come back with some feedback!

Or nip up the road to Vanidols!


Anonymous said...

I second Ivory Cafe in Elizabeth St, awesome food, great prices and Donnas service is perfect. we are part of the growing crowd or regulars.

Anonymous said...

I also tried Sapa Rose. It was very busy on a Monday night and we had to wait bloody ages for food and service. The food was OK, the service terrible (to be expected) and the restaurant quite nice. There are a couple of hundred better places to eat Vietnamese just across the water (Melbourne). Unfortunately this is the best Viet in Hobart....the price for living in paradise!! Being close to the cinema I will be back...
Spag Blog

Anonymous said...

Gluggysuaces, dumbed down spices; some food cold by the time it hit the table; brown onions raw on the sizzle plate; slow, so very, very slow service. Stop being greedy Mr Owner, if you don't have the staff, don't fill all your tables. Better some happy customers than many grumpy ones. One table waited for half an hour then left - no water, no menus, nada....

Christina said...

Gosh! So want to go but just can't bring myself to do it..

Anonymous said...

Walked past tonight and it is a great looking place and they looked totally in control at about 10pm with just a few people left.
But when there are so many places to go to why wouldn't you give them a bit more time to get their act together?
Christina, have you and Phil been to the Ivory Cafe yet?


Christina said...

Haven't been as yet, but on the to do list.

Rick of South Hobart said...

Heading out to this eatery for dinner this evening, looking forward to it immensely!

Rita said...

This place has really aroused some interest so I hope Rick of South Hobart enjoys his night at Sapa Rose!

Rick of South Hobart said...

Time for some feedback. Firstly, I must say the food was brilliant. Everything was perfectly done, good sizes and tastes superb.

BUT..the service! I get that the owner is the only chef, and we were expecting a bit of a wait. We asked for some caraffes of water..4 times..before they were delivered to the table. When it came to order, they only wanted to take our mains order, and wouldn't take entree orders. About 15 minutes after we ordered mains, they came and asked us if we wanted entree??

I was on a table of 10, and of those 5 got main's that were different to what they ordered and had to be taken back to the kitchen. Some of my party got different drinks to what they ordered as well. One member of my party ordered the chicken curry and was given a lovely plate of rice to have with it, but the rice dish was actually another person's entree, and the rice for the curry arrived 30 minutes later. Jenny and I got our mains 70 minutes after other members of our party got their mains, and Jason got his mains about 20 minutes before anyone else on the table got theirs.

Other tables near us were the same, with some people getting their food and others not..for ages.

I think they need to look at the entire service in the restuarant, and rework it so that has an assured and known plan, cause at present, it seems each staff member does random things, with no direction to how they work.

Would I go again, yes, cause the food (and company) was brilliant. Would I go a third time if service doesn't improve next time, probably not.

I think Sapa Rose could become a favourite eatery, but they need to do something about their service or people will not go back.

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment, the service was non-existent; they need to match their patron numbers with staff and kitchen capacity. It took 15 minutes to be seated at a pre booked table, 45minutes to be served the 1st round of drinks after repeated visits to the counter, 2 and half hours to serve last main. We didn't have time to consider desert or coffee. The food was OK (nothing can really be enjoyed while your patience is being tested) unfortunately it was brought out erratically, one of the entrées was the 3rd last dish served. Rice for the table was ice cold by the time I received my main.

I won't be back until I hear of a substantial improvement.

A restaurant is not a kitchen, which creates speciality food.


Bertram Pinkus said...

...went there....waited one minute before being greeted...sat promptly...ordered at the counter...minutes later food arrived, delicious...Friendly service...were in and out in 35 minutes flat..McDonalds s is good like that...

Anonymous said...

We've eaten there twice and had take aways twice. Charming, enthusiastic service, huge menu, great prices, good food. The front of house staff are still learning but who cares? I was given a free glass of wine because I had to wait a bit for my take away once. Recommended.

Snuva said...

We finally got there Saturday night and loved it! The wait staff could use some more experience - there was a lot of double-handling of menus, every pre-booked table I saw arrive still needed to have the customers wait a while before table being set and customers being seated, etc. On the other hand as flustered and inexperienced as they seemed, they gave us lots of smiles and were polite. And it was a very busy Saturday night. They did seem to have lots of staff on - if they get more experience it should be good!

Our food was fantastic! We had the Vietnamese spring rolls and the salt and pepper quail for entrée. Not long after we were finished our mains arrived, house special peking duck in Sapa sauce (my husband RAVED about this) and I can't remember what the beef dish was called. The beef was so tender and thinly sliced and I LOVED it. I thought the flavours were great, and they reminded me of eating with a Vietnamese friend's family long ago.

I can't wait to go back for lunch and get the vermicelli noodles with spring rolls, etc. I haven't had this since I left Sydney. (My last job was in Ultimo so I was very spoiled.)

Deena said...

Papaya salad is to die for! And for anyone that has travelled in vietnam this food is just the same as the food there. The service really is pretty bad but they try so hard and are so friendly all is quickly forgiven, and I think this just adds to the experience as we found the same most places in Vietnam, disorganised but so friendly, went Saturday and already booked in to go back on Tuesday!

hat trick said...

I booked a table for 5 on a Thursday evening. It was early (6.30) and the restaurant wasn't that busy.
We waited 30 minutes for the entree - spring rolls. They were good.
We then waited more than an hour for our main (ordered at the same time as the entree). Some dishes were better than others but overall it was really ordinary. Lots of MSG and fairly bland. We were not at all impressed.

Even less so when I looked at the docket the next day and saw I had paid for 2 Boags Premium (2 x $7) we had not ordered.
I phoned to mention this to the manager (twice) and each time was told he wasn't there but that he would call me back. He hasn't.

Anonymous said...

...yes hat trick he's fled the country and is living the high life on your owed $14 dollars...