The last time I went in there (perhaps three years ago) it looked extremely tired and dated, but the food was pretty good. So when I heard it had changed hands a few months back - and had also enjoyed a bit of a facelift - I returned to see what was new.
|Not the most inviting of exteriors, but it gets better!|
In the heart of the hipster paradise that is the Uplands, it's refreshing to see a restaurant that doesn't feel it has to match the 'trendy', shabby-chic design of its neighbours. Instead - even after the refurb - it's still looking like... well, like it doesn't care that much. It's had some new wallpaper and still looks incredibly 1980s, but this works. There's nothing pretentious about it and that's an instant hit with me.
|A... unique design.|
Before we get onto the food, I'll mention that it's a 'bring your own booze' place, which will happily uncork your wine and open your beer without any extra charge or fuss. There is also an array of soft-drinks available to buy. I didn't actually know they had a BYOB policy (before the change of management it was fully licensed), but a quick trip to a nearby off-licence sorted that problem out.
|A photo to illustrate how popular the little place is.|
So onto the food, which is naturally Vietnamese, albeit with a twist of Cantonese these days (which works well as the new chef is Chinese). This means you can get a classic sweet and sour dish next to your more exotic Bun Mang Vit (a bamboo, duck and noodle soup).
On the night I visited I was part of a table of six. We all ordered a dish each and shared the full meal, so it's hard to say exactly what I ate but it was all high quality and very tasty (if a little garlicky).
|The Bun Ga Xao Xa, I believe.|
I definitely had some of the Bun Ga Xao Xa (stir fried chicken and lemongrass with vermicelli noodles) which was intensely flavoured and very satisfying. I tried some sweet and sour tofu, which was perhaps a little gloopy, but nice enough for a sample.
|The highlight: incredible spring rolls!|
However, the highlight for me was the Vietnamese spring rolls, which seemed to be freshly made and stuffed full of delicious minced pork, carrot and glass noodles, served with an aromatic dipping sauce. I literally had about ten pieces - wonderful.
|Sweet and sour tofu|
The bill for six of us (with some food left over) was about £72, which is good value, boosted by the fact that we didn't have to fork out for expensive drinks.
Only a few negatives, one being the glass tables - they may look nice, but if you put anything hard down on it with anything more than a feather touch it will make an ungodly clanging sound. Another minor quibble is the 'cash only' aspect which can be inconvenient these days (although there are cash points opposite).
I must say that the staff were very friendly too, and negotiated the small and crowded space with ease and efficiency.
In all Vietnam is a great restaurant when you fancy a change from the standard Indian/Chinese cuisine of which there is so much in Swansea, and some of the other restaurants that focus too much on style and not enough on the food.
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