Annam has brought us an authentic taste of French and Vietnamese dishes due to the French colonisation of Vietnam.Under culinary local Chris Green’s old Arbitrageur roof, he provides us with a snapshot of a bustling, contemporary slice of Vietnam. He is assisted by Nikki Chung owner of Willis St’s Nam cafe.The first visit, it was full of rugby and concert go-ers and was humming. You can either sit near the entrance on trestle tables surrounded by herbs and lanterns, at the long bar and eat, drink and chat to the fabulously friendly barmen or at one of the tables or booths. You know I love booths right? There is a also small private dining room upstairs.
The maitre d’ is ever so charming and efficient and ensures you get attended to immediately.
We sat on stools at the well stocked bar. They have Tiger beer and Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc on tap, and the wine and cocktail list is amazing. A prossecco and savvie did us till the others arrived. Coffee is part of the whole Vietnamese experience, so check out some of the speciality coffee cocktails, coffees or desserts if you have a long night ahead.
From the street food dishes on the menu, there is a variety of raw and crispy spring rolls, chicken wings, skewers, prawns and squid. We chose the prawn rice paper rolls and caramelised ginger chicken skewers. Nom. Nom.
The rest of the menu is split into Pho soups, wok tossed dishes, salads, curries, grills and desserts. After much deliberation, we settled for shaking beef marinated in garlic, onion and chilli, chicken and fresh herb salad and coconut and lemongrass chicken curry with a side of rice to share. Everything was really good but the chicken salad was amazeballs. The fresh and aromatic flavours just linger in your mouth for ages. We shared the summer chocolate fondant- an espresso chocolate mousse and the coconut crème brulee with mango. Irrezeeztibull.
I did nip back for a second visit and was seduced by the marinated beef and green apple salad. My friend had the wok fried lemongrass beef served with crispy spring rolls. Both dishes were fantastic, however the salad won the vote hands down. Even the bartender commented on how good the salad was. I actually wasn’t that hungry but I wasn’t going to leave any to waste, only to my waist.
The gold waving cat on the bar, symbolises ‘bringing in wealth’ into a business or household. It definitely magnetically draws in the Wellingtonians night and day and puts Vietnam on the map, as a bucket list destination. Hubby and I have fond memories of Vietnam. The people are so lovely and the food is to die for except the dogs on sticks were a bit scary. We found Hanoi quite overwhelming and chaotic at first, yet got used to it. I would highly recommend, in fact insist, on a side trip to Halong Bay, as this helped restore our balance and inner peace. It was amazingly beautiful and our night on the junk boat and day adventure kayaking into the caves, was unreal.
Annam translates to ‘peaceful South “ and that’s how you feel once you leave this place. You’re engulfed in really positive energy in lovely relaxed surroundings with healthy and sumptuously fresh cuisine to boot.
Vietnamese 88 I love you longtime but Annam you have now become my fave. BTW there are still another four Vietnamese restaurants in Welly yet to try. I wonder how they will compare? Watch this space.