The Tissues. Our Gin Long Canteen night was filled with them; but the point was well made in the end.
I remember my first hit of Vietnamese street food, pho in front of me, plate of vegetables on the side, endless chilli and hoisin, box of tissues at front. I was hooked.
Much has changed since then, but I still love the tastes and sounds of a hawker venue.
Gin Long Canteen is that and more.
Gone are the plastic tubs of cutlery. The laminate table.
This place has so many more shades of cool.
Long tables or bar side eating, industrial lighting and exposed bulbs.
Yet the nods to a more casual eatery are there.
The tissues of course.
Staff in knee high socks.
Gin Long signature cocktail in a plastic peel top cup with bubble straw.
All these I get. They’re fun.
But for my tastes the description of the bespoke infused gins and syrups was so enticing that I expected a tall well muddled glass.. with ice, freshness and bite.
But it was a small thing, the food was plentiful and good.
We opted for the banquet at $39.00 a head. The menu isn’t huge but it’s a tempting mix; think rice paper, betel leaf, curries and braise. There was no way we were stopping talking long enough to choose.
Prices are very reasonable – 6-12 for the entrees and most mains around the 20 mark; just the Nom Nom Baramundi at 29 (and we had opted out of seafood tonight).
We opted for Bird In Hand Sparkling Pinot and a Tomich Rhyme & Reason Pinot Gris. Both Adelaide Hills.
The food was prolific; well it seemed so for us. Entrees of Prawn Toast, Chicken Satay and Do-It_Yourself Grilled Pork Rice Paper Rolls. It was about now that the tissue-doubters among us saw the light..
Then came Pomegranate Chicken, Lychee Duck Curry, Really Slow Braised Pork Belly and the Very Exciting Beef Salad, plus a Chinese Vegetable Chop Suey on the side.
The Beef Salad was sensational – loved the little toasted mustard seeds that popped on my teeth. And spicy. Enter the tissues again.
Pomegranate Chicken was a table favourite – sweet, moist, and little bursts of pomegranate goodness scattered across the top.
Much conversation about the Pork Belly: it’s a personal preference, but give me crisped-up, rendered-off slivers of goodness, and now you’re talking.
We weren’t planning on dessert, but with generous surprise it came – a complimentary share plate of banana pudding with butterscotch sauce, a scoop of icecream on the side. Yes please.
And with the constant tears of laughter, I was reaching for the tissues again. I pulled fist fulls of used tissues out of my pocket before the end of the night.
Despite the no bookings policy, we were well looked after with pre-dinner seating at rear and then a table out front. The smokers beside us werent a huge distraction, and probably our constant raucous laughter disturbed them more.
Out of ten? I loved the vibe, the food, the feel, and the busy North Adelaide street bustling alongside us.
Definitely “I’d go again’: I’d call it delicious fun.
PostScript: to my cohorts for the evening.. what a night; what wonderful warm witty and just darn inspiring friends you are. X