The demise of two Japanese restaurants (Kazen and Happy Kappa) preceded the opening of two new Vietnamese restaurants on Brunswick St: Pho 54 Mandalay Bay in the south and An Nam further north (where the Cherry Lounge used to be). Mandalay Bay was the winner of the last ‘tell me where to go’ poll and I visited with a friend on a recent weekday evening for dinner.
With 45 of 134 votes, or 33%, Pho 54 Mandalay Bay won easily but the total vote was lower than previous months. I suspect that placing one new place among old places makes the result seem a foregone conclusion and does not encourage people to vote. Consequently, I have made the poll for December a contest between five established businesses, and the voting seems much closer so far.
Mandalay Bay features a saturated green, white and red interior that is so new and clean that it looks like an advertisement for the cafe in a retro futuristic space station. I like it!
The menu contains many familiar dishes including pho. We started with rice paper rolls – prawn for me (above) and vegetable for my companion. They were obviously freshly made as they were so soft and moist, unlike the comparatively firm and dry premade versions you’re served at some other Vietnamese restaurants.
While I eat almost everything, and was in the mood for some fish, my friend is more particular and, while she is not technically a vegetarian, she mostly eats vegetable dishes. The pho is made with chicken or beef stock, so while she was willing to have beef stock as a base, my friend wanted a vegetable and tofu soup and the waiter was happy to oblige. She was very happy with the result (above).
I was also very pleased with my delicious salt and pepper fish, which was rockling (below).
I’m impressed with Mandalay Bay and would be happy to return, as the food is good and reasonably priced. Next time I’ll try to bring a group so I can order a larger selection of dishes.