Ăn Uống Eat. Drink. Vietnam is the latest eatery in Richmond that has tongues wagging. Situated on Bridge Road, there is no mistaking Ăn Uống Eat. Drink. Vietnam’s bold presence – its buzzing vibe, fresh and colourful aesthetic draw you in for what will be a culinary experience not easily forgotten. Ăn Uống, literally meaning ‘eat, drink’ in Vietnamese, is the brainchild of three friends, Richard Nguyen, Zico Lu, and Le, who hail from different regions in Vietnam.
The trio’s travel adventures and fond childhood memories form the basis of the carefully constructed menu. Containing popular dishes from the north, south and central Vietnam, most come with an intriguing backstory. ‘The grilled kingfish rice paper rolls and the kingfish salad, for example, were inspired by the seafood we bought at the fishing city of Nha Trang while visiting Le’s family,’ says head chef Lu.
Perched at a table by the window, right near the bar, Milk Bar Mag were treated to a front-row seat to the fun and upbeat environment Ăn Uống prides itself on. Now to the highlights, – and there were many – you cannot go past the pumpkin spring rolls. A far cry from their store-bought counterparts, these delicious morsels are filled with spiced pumpkin. This is an appetiser that you make time for.
The designed-to-share menu features traditional street food options dressed with modern flavours and a contemporary flair. The betel san choi bao is packed with lemongrass, chilli, lime, and your choice of prawn or tofu. Pair it with delicious taro crisps and you’ve got an excellent starting point. For those a little more daring, try the crowd-favourite fried chicken ribs served with gochujang mayo and adorned with pickles. Side note: gochujang is a Korean spicy condiment that is mellow on the palette compared to Sriracha sauce.
A popular món chính you may ask? I would order mum’s thit kho tau, comprising caramelised pork belly and a free range egg in coconut juice. The pork belly is juicy, tender and simply melts in your mouth. The backstory: it is ‘a variation of my mother’s recipe that I originally disliked as a child, but nowadays it’s a very nostalgic dish that I really enjoyed reinventing…the entire process takes three days – I’m sure I’m doing mum’s recipe proud!’ says Lu.
Let’s not forget the sweet treats. Ăn Uống Eat. Drink. Vietnam’s offerings are impressive and immaculately created. An ode to the French influence in Vietnam, the banh flan is a Vietnamese crème caramel with burnt figs. Yum! The coconut lychee sago is simply delectable and the perfect way to finish off your meal.
Rarely does a restaurant balance cultural authenticity and modern tastes well, but Ăn Uống Eat. Drink. Vietnam’s rich knowledge of local cuisine and modern appetites are second to none.