The personal stories and adventures of a nerdy food lover.

Red Lantern on Riley Sydney – Review

Red Lantern on RileyExcited didn’t even describe how I felt when I made a reservation for Red Lantern on Riley Street. I had already eaten at the original Red Lantern on Crown Street in Surry Hills and was quite taken with the food there. Each dish that my friends and I had ordered reminded me so much of the food that my Mum makes. It was like being transported back to my Mum’s kitchen. That being said, I had high hopes for the Darlinghurst restaurant, which is situated on Riley Street towards the City Cross Tunnel end. The menu at each restaurant is mostly different, with a couple of dishes being the same but the Riley Street menu offers a few mid courses giving you more dishes to choose from. The interior of the restaurant is lovely with tables and chairs on one side, booths on the other and a huge long table in the middle which can seat about 14 people. A great space to invite a group of friends for a Vietnamese banquet! On this occasion, there were five of us and we were seated in one of the booths. Towards the back of the restaurant, there are windows where you can see straight through to the kitchen and watch the team making your meals. The restaurant is cosy without making you feel cramped, but is spacious enough that you don’t feel like you have to suck your stomach in, trying to squeeze yourself past other patrons if you have to get out of your seat. On this night, my friends and I (which also included my wonderful Manager from work; we were both in Sydney on a work trip) decided that we would order from the tasting menu so we could try a whole smattering of dishes rather than trying to decide which al a carte dishes to share. We chose the Hanoi Hunger which included eight (OMG!) dishes for only $65 per person. Of course, before anyone could eat, I had to take pictures….

Long communal tableView into the kitchenBo Xao Xa Cuon and Goi Xoai voi Tai HeoDau Hu Chien voi Ca Tiem NuongMuc Rang MuoiHu Tieu Xao TomSuon Bo NauThit Heo Nuong MeCai Xanh Xao ChaoGoi Vit

One of the girls in my group was not a seafood eater nor was she taken by the pig’s ear that was in the Goi Xoai voi Tai Heo, so the wonderful team in the kitchen gave us a couple of separate dishes to cater for my friend’s dietary requirements – without hesitation or question. Now THAT is what I call service! By the end of all eight dishes, we were so incredibly stuffed that we didn’t even have enough space for dessert (BOO!). But the food was nonetheless outstanding, and once again, very reminiscent of the dishes my Mum would make. The thing that stuck with me the most about this restaurant is that it showcases Vietnamese cuisine in an elegantly sophisticated manner. You don’t feel like you are in a stereotypical Vietnamese restaurant with large round tables, topped with a table cloth that has been bleached to death and a lazy Susan in the middle. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it certainly doesn’t add to the ambience. I would love to take my parents to either of the Red Lantern restaurants one day, for them to experience the exceptional gastronomic experience I had.

What’s the score?
Food – 4.5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5
Value – 4/5
Total – 4.2/5

Would I go back? Yes, in less than a heart-beat. I’m a little sad that I don’t live in Sydney because I could see these restaurants being on my regulars list. I guess I’ll just have to make more excuses to go to Sydney for work….

Red Lantern on Riley
60 Riley Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9698 4355
Note: Reservations are a must!!!!

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10 thoughts on “Red Lantern on Riley Sydney – Review

  1. I don’t mean to be rude, and this comment (not unlike your blog) is my own personal opinion. Whilst I quite enjoy your stories, your recreations of other people’s recipes and reading about your visits to restaurants, I do take issue with your insistance on ‘rating’ them.

    From what I’ve read you are neither a restauranteur, chef or qualified food critic and although I’m interested to hear about your experiences I find your ratings a little self indulgent. Your benchmarks are inconsistent, your criteria for rating is unclear at best and put simply, I think this feature of your blog undermines the hard work of those who are actually qualified to give their opinion on these matters.

    Again, understand that this is your blog, not mine and I am under no obligation to read it. Just thought you might appreciate some honest feedback.

    • Hi Ruth – I have never purported to be any of the things that you have mentioned above anywhere on my blog. I am only a person who loves to cook and eat food. When I read reviews, whether they be from a qualified or unqualified source, I like to also see what their review means qualitatively – I take no issue with that – which is why I included a rating. Any reviews that I do are from a consumer point of view with regard to what I see, feel and taste – that is all. Thank you for taking the time to read through my posts and providing your honest feedback. I will take what you have said on board for consideration.

  2. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I had to look up the address of the restaurant. It’s a long way from where I am. But it’s small world because my daughter’s best friend just married and will visit Australia in the spring when they visit the groom’s family for the other half of the wedding. All the best.

  3. I ate in the red lantern on crown street earlier this year and like you would love to live in Sydney so I could go back regularly! Luke even made an appearance the night we were there. Great review! 😃

    • Oh you lucky duck! I believe Luke is still doing his Greater Mekong promo tour so he wasn’t at the restaurant that night, but I did see Mark Jensen out the back. I was lucky enough to meet Luke when he did his promo thing in Adelaide so I guess that makes up for it – he’s a lovely guy, isn’t he? Anyway, thanks for checking out my post. 🙂

      • Yeah, a really nice guy and love his food and his programmes. Planning a trip to Vietnam next year so hopefully I’ll get to try out some ‘real’ Vietnamese for the first time and compare. If I can also offer my non-expert personal opinion I’d just like to say that I enjoy the reviews on your blog. I know there is nothing scientific about them but I don’t believe you need to be ‘qualified’ to review a restaurant. The reason I read blogs reviewing restaurants is because I enjoy hearing the opinions of real people who love food and not those of paid reviewers / writers. Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

      • Thank you very much for your kind words and support. 🙂 That’s very exciting about your upcoming trip. You are going to absolutely love it! It’s unbelievable how inexpensive it is to eat in Vietnam. You’ll definitely be eating a lot!

  4. Great review and love the photos. Cheers and keep em coming 🙂

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