When you think about Vietnamese cuisine rice paper rolls, pho and banh mi instantly come to mind. But there’s much more at modern-Vietnamese bar and restaurant Forty Licks. It’s in the basement of a heritage-listed building in the CBD.
There’s bánh đa: blue swimmer crab marinated in young coconut and served with tapioca crackers, betel leaf and jicama, a Mexican root vegetable. And Da Nang-style bánh xèo (crisp pancakes) that come three ways: with sautéed king prawns, bean sprouts and pork floss; fried bean curd, mint and galangal; and Rangers Valley Black Angus with tamarind chimichurri and red-wine jus.
There’s also xúc xích Lào xôi chiên, which is spicy pork sausage with fermented chilli and fried sticky rice. It comes from the rotisserie and barbeque section of the menu, which also includes half servings of chicken aged in a miso and lime leaf paste and served with salt, pepper and lime juice.
The signature cocktail is the Lick Me Forty, a mix of tequila, dandelion and Burdock bitters, vanilla syrup, and lemon. If you prefer to stick to wine, it’s a thought-out list featuring some of Australia’s top biodynamic producers.
The basement space mimics the tiered rice paddies of Vietnam, with a mix of sculptural bamboo installations and rattan and timber throughout. The exposed heritage sandstone is also there to give it a touch of Sydney.