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A new restaurant by Andrew Duong promises to challenge assumptions about Asian food. This is Miss Van’s.
And, given his string of successes with Miss Van’s Street Food, Lazy Su and Baby Su, it also promises to attract a fast fan base.
The funky new restaurant, facing onto Marcus Clarke Street from the CityWest carpark, will give Andrew a permanent home and a chance to show off his well-honed hospitality skills and his young and well-credentialled new team which includes head chef Adam Hazleton (ex-Aubergine and ex-Pulp Kitchen via London), sous chef Brandon Hardiman (ex-Corella), and bar manager Michael Nguyen (ex-Molly and AHA’s Bartender of the Year 2019).
The theme of “Old Ways meets New Traditions” is emblazoned on the menu which features dishes best described as New Asian.
Think spring rolls of wild mushrooms, palm heart, and vermicelli, grilled king prawn with tomato curry and shellfish oil, and a dessert of Vietnamese coffee salted caramel, condensed milk ice cream, wild rice and cacao nib.
Andrew’s modernised and exemplary banh mi still make an appearance on the lunch menu with cha lua, roasted pork, chicken parfait, pickles and herbs for the carnivores and lemongrass & garlic tofu, pickles and herbs for the plant-based eaters.
While Andrew hopes to offer takeaways once he has bedded things in, his new Miss Van’s is all about long lunches, and set-menu dinners to be savoured—either on long tables with friends or intimate high bar tables near all the action taking place in the kitchen.
Seating 16 outside on a long wooden deck, while another 50 inside enjoy the luxe tropical surrounds, courtesy of a large and delightfully comfortable curved banquet upholstered in a velvet jungle motif, the entire glass frontage of the restaurant rolls back to take advantage of the fresh air and streetscape.
The wine list features seven labels by the glass, while a selection of fun Australian naturals, classics and international standouts fill out the by-the-bottle list. Miss Van’s also boasts a very enticing cocktail list which, combined with the inviting deck, make summer afternoons a very fun proposition.
The ‘Poetic Justice’ cocktail features Starward Two Fold, passionfruit, earl grey, honey and C02 fizz, while ‘Swimming Pools’ features Batanga Blanco, apricot, lemongrass, orange blossom, lemon and prosecco. Embracing the growing desire for zero alcohol cocktails, there’s also the ‘Good Kid’ featuring mango and coconut cream with ginger, lemon and soda, and a ‘Sing About Me’ featuring strawberry and pomegranate reduction, Thai basil, Sichuan, lime and tonic.
With his Vietnamese Laos heritage which was influenced by his family’s experience in Thai refugee camps, Andrew wants to steer away from the perception that authentic Asian food must be cheap. “Authentic restaurants owned by immigrants and their descendants are discriminately forced to underprice their food—leading owners to underpay themselves and their staff,” he said.
He wants to change the stereotype that Asian food is fast and cheap and hopes instead to help customers enjoy the traditional flavours, intricacies and heart of his food.
“I would like people to appreciate that a banh mi has more than 10 ingredients, many of those handmade and labour intensive to produce. A plate of avo and two eggs on toast costs upwards of $14, but a banh mi is mandated to be less than $10, otherwise it’s a ripoff.”
Andrew is pitching the restaurant at the more serious end of the Canberra restaurant scene, while still maintaining that sense of fun and warmth that has made him a much-loved local figure.
It was 16-year-old Andrew who one day hoped to open his own restaurant and put into practice his family’s tradition of revering flavour and sharing good food. Now 38, Andrew could not be more excited to open the doors and welcome new customers in.
“I have honestly wanted to do this for more than 20 years but have been detoured along the way with other projects, all for good reason and all of which have given me the experience and learning to arrive at this place.”
Miss Van’s opens today.
What: Miss Van’s
Where: Shop 4, 113-119 Marcus Clarke Street Civic
When: Lunch Thursday-Sunday, dinners Wednesday-Saturday