We decided to have dinner at Ms. G, which I was excited about after hearing wonderful reviews of their starters. Locating the place was funny, as it was confusing which was Darlinghurst Rd & which was Victoria Rd (those coming from Kings Cross St, it's the one with Mercure hotel on it). When we spotted the place, we noted that it looked like strip club with the neon signage and all (parody of the location?). It looked like a funky and youthful place upon stepping in. We arrived early (6?) so it was relatively empty, we were probably the first customers, but it packed very quickly. By 7pm, it was super packed.
One thing that really struck me about the place was the modern rustic decor. It was fresh, interesting and very pretty. We sat on the 3rd floor. The fusion of the ropes, light and the wooden textures on the right is unusually romantic, the grafitti wall art on the left is funky for a friend's reunion and the two seater with the view and some ropes is better for conversation (in my opinion). The ground floor is also a refreshing area to eat, with the breeze directly flowing in. I like the place so far. However, when mr C informed me of the 'edginess' they brought to the restrooms I felt that they are trying to hard to stand out. According to mr C, there are rusty old taps with buckets used as sinks, yet the place is still clean... I'm usually of the opinion that no matter how you want to reinvent the decor, you should leave the restrooms alone. Why would you take the risk of possibly causing people (and hygiene freaks) discomfort when going to the restroom? I don't know, but the sound of a rusty tap turns me off immensely, hence why I didn't want to go there amidst mr c's encouragement. It screams 'What the?' and 'try hard'. No offence, of course. If anything, I would have left it at the interesting signs in the toilet and not done something so drastic. The unique plate collection was a nice touch though.
The menu is cute and interesting. The place gives me the impression that is it out to impress and be unique. Hence, the play on "msg621" and the artistic theme of the restaurant and the friendly staff. Our waitress was cool, laid back and very helpful. My friend really enjoyed the service, and the main reason, I think, is because it created a very casual and light hearted interaction between diners and the restaurant. Now, onto the food. Or drinks.
We ordered Good Morning Vietnam, Iced Green Tea, both without the alcohol, and for the friend who wanted an alcoholic drink,Summer Lovin'. Both the non alcohol drinks were packaged, and the alcohol unpackaged. Me and my friend, H, both oohed and aahed over the cute packaging. However, H looked at the small size of the drink and noted that it seems slightly overpriced for a drink that small for $14. I interject and presuppose that since these are like cocktails, the price would appear reasonable (and in line with many other places). Besides, I think without alcohol it was slightly cheaper (but I cannot be sure, because I only briefly looked at the bill).
The cute packaging!
"Good Morning Vietnam" - $14
Raspberries, lime, palm sugar, Vietnamese mint, soda
I opted for this without the alcohol (shochu) since I thought I would enjoy the fruity taste better. I think that was a good decision, because I found the drink to be too acidic (and not very fruity) even without the alcohol. The taste of raspberry doesn't come across very strong, instead the minty taste takes over. Personally, I didn't really like the drink and ended up swapping for my friend's Iced Green Tea.
Green Iced Tea - $13
Cloud & Mist tea, grapefruit bitters, green apple, mint
I found this to be a more to my taste. It's slightly less acidic, surprisingly a bit sweet (perhaps the green apple?) and the mint flavour actually blend well with the green tea (whereby with the raspberry, it kind of clashed). Also, I loved the green tea aftertaste of this drink. This drink isn't very sweet, but I found that I kept sipping at it because of the lightness of the acidity was balanced well with the green tea.
Summer Lovin' - $20
Tanquery 10,Applejack, St Germaine elderflower liquer, pineapple and ginger foam packaged
I found that this drink, despite the alcohol, retained a sweeter taste. However, that's not to say you can't taste the alcohol. Pleasant drink, with nice incorporation of the pineapple flavour. But not the greatest cocktail I've tasted either.
For starters, we had the mini banh mi, Ms G's grilled corn on the cob. Yep, this was a no brainer! We sat close to the window, and the sun was still up, so there is a slight glare in the photos.
I found that the crispy pork belly had a really delicious, creamy pate (which I want more of!). The buns of the mini banh mi were softer than the traditional banh mi, lightly sprinkled with flour. It was delightful!
However, I liked the chicken katsu mini banh me more. The chicken was crispy, and the sauce slightly spicier and tangier. It kind of reminded me of a mini KFC burger more than the Vietnamese banh mi. Texturally, this was also more interesting than the pork belly banh mi.
I think the success of the mini banh mi, is their cute size. Looking at the components, there isn't a great variation from that to a normal banh mi apart from the pork belly and the chicken katsu (and the spicy sauce). But due to the smaller size, you have all these textures and flavours in one bite (like sushi!) and it leaves you wanting more. With the Vietnamese pork roll, perhaps the size of it, for me, is harder to finish and is meant to leave you full. Both are very good in my opinion (I'm digressing), and I feel that appreciation of either one, leads to better appreciation of the other.
I was greatly anticipating the grilled corn, and it did not disappoint at all. I loved it.
The combination of the butter, spicy sauce, parmesan and coriander were perfect. I had mine without the lime but it was simply perfect regardless! The corn itself wasn't very sweet, but the spicy sauce really reinvented corn on the cob for me! I've never had corn like that, but it is such a great combination. The grated parmesan flakes was so yummy as well, perfect with the coriander. I kept rolling my corn in more parmesan. Man, writing about this makes me want to re-eat the corn. I wonder if they do takeaway....
For entree, we had the raw sea scallop, kohlrabi, guacamole, finger lime ($16). mr C really liked this. I liked it too (I'm a scallop fan!). There is a great amount of herbs which is a Vietnamese thing apparently (says mr C) and maybe this is why I'm such a fan of this dish too. The herbs and the guacamole goes really well with the sea scallop, and the crunch (not sure if its fried shallots of fried kohlrabi) provides a nice texture to the mix. My only wish was if the sea scallop was medium rare, because the raw scallop became too slimy once I had a bit too much. Whereas cooked scallop is sweeter in taste yet the tenderness of the scallop is revealed once bitten into. However, I'm no chef so nothing much I can do there.
Our second entree, prawn toast, yuzu aoili, herbs ($14) is quite an interesting dish. It was served hot, so once I took a bite of it, steam came out. It was very nice, since I like my food hot. Once again, a lot of herbs and also some mayonnaise dressing. Admittedly, the dish was pleasant - hot, crunchy on the outside, yet softer on the inside, but it lacked something 'special'. In the end, I didn't even bother fighting for the last piece (but I think my company did enjoy the meal more than I did). It's probably something to do with the prawns (because I love my seafood, prawns included)
Onto our mains, the first that arrived was the Vietnamese curry...
Personally, as a Vietnamese myself, I didn't think the curry was spicy enough to be considered Vietnamese curry. Flavour wise, it did resemble the home made curries I've had (minus the hot spiciness). This is probably because as mr C notes, that the area and restaurant is more geared towards western diners, who probably can't handle as much spice (I'm generalising of course). I look around and do note that we were the only Asians on the level. Apart from that, baguette was crisp, enjoyable. However, mr C commented that there was nothing remarkable about the dish and I felt the same way. Another thing we agreed on was that the dish was quite a waste of wagyu beef. Whilst it was tender and fell apart easily, the fattiness of wagyu beef is nowhere to be found. And so, it reminded me of so many other beautiful wagyu dishes I've had ... and I don't think this is a desired effect of the chefs!
Jow's sweet & sour lamb ribs ($23) were next up. I myself am not a fan of lamb to be frank, but mr C loved it and raved on and on about it. I liked the marinade, and the herbs. The lamb was well cooked. mr c and I come to the conclusion that the lamb was probably braised first, then deep fried, leaving an extra crunch to it (another big hint seems to be the fall-apartness of the white bones.) And that is about all I can rave because I don't enjoy the taste of lamb personally. I do think that lamb lovers would love the dish though.
Snow crab meat, dashi custard, broccoli, vegetable nage($24).
I really liked this dish, probably my favourite main. The crab (I love my seafood!) was sweet and delicious, whereby the custard was soft - almost tofu-like - and had an egg-y taste (which mr C says is a good thing, shows they made is with real egg). The dashi taste is very light though, but does add an interesting element to the custard. The broccoli is also very yum retaining the natural taste of broccoli but you can also taste the broth slightly penetrated the broccoli. I love the broccoli, and it added a nice crunch to the dish. Broccoli is also good for you. Broccoli!
Now, desserts! Also another course I really anticipated. Albeit, I was slightly disappointed. We had the 'Stoner's Delight 2.0', Pandan chiffon cake and Blood orange ice cream & granita, crushed Oreos and marscapone mousse. In hindsight, the "Breakfast" dessert sounds appealing.
The Stoner's Delight 2.0, is ... wacky. Actually to be completely honest, it was my least favourite. The 'doughnut' aka cinnamon ice cream is lovely: creamy, not overwhelmingly sweet. The banana fritter was also very delightful, I really liked that. Apart from that, the mars bar slice did not look too sweet, but ended up being overwhelmingly chocolatey which made chewing it to be rather icky. The candied bacon is interesting. I guess you either like it or you don't. And most of us didn't. Well, most = all. I didn't really mind it, but it wasn't something that commanded me to gobble it all up. It reminded me of beef jerky, texture wise, slightly chewy and harder. The potato chips added crunch, but flavour-wise, wasn't compelling to me.
The pandan chiffon cake was pleasant, the components were appropriate. However, it wasn't outstanding. My first scoop was of the coconut sorbet which was divine though. It perfectly captures the taste of coconut and chilled perfectly. I want more coconut sorbet. The pandan was a bit dense, and not spongey enough in my opinion. The sago and diced strawberries were also nice, but I did wish for something a tad more interesting.
Lastly, the blood orange ice cream & granita with crushed Oreos... H and mr C really liked this... I'm a fan of granita and fruity desserts, and the blood orange is refreshing. However, the crushed Oreos felt out of place. I felt there are many other crunchy foods which can lend the same texture. The ice cream wasn't too rich, and blended well with the marscapone. However, I do feel that with both the granita and ice cream being blood orange flavour.. it was too much. I guess, I would have preferred the ice cream a lighter vanilla or another fruity flavour to balance it out a bit more.
The open kitchen, which they kindly let us photograph after we asked. Dan Hong is quite a cutie, expression-wise, in the kitchen.
Drinking in the kitchen? Who said chefs aren't interesting?
The verdict? A nice place to chill, with pleasant food. The fact that they are better known for their starters is telling, as their mains and desserts leave for a lot more to be desired.
155 Victoria St, Potts Point (20) 8313 1000
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