Taking a leap into the hospitality business is no easy feat, but Tuoi Tran and Annie Liang landed firmly on their feet with Gondola Gondola.
The Asian fusion restaurant, named after the boats from which vendors sell fresh produce in Vietnam and Thailand, sits somewhere between street food and fine dining. It provides locals and visitors alike a chance to try Vietnamese flavours with a modern, Southeast Asian twist.
Growing up on a farm in Virginia, Tuoi always had a passion for fresh produce and he discovered his appreciation for all things food in a cooking class. Annie on the other hand, was tired of the corporate work environment and wanted to own her own business in the bar and hospitality industry. After countless discussions, Tuoi and Annie decided to chase their dream and open a business together.
Seksan Suntharaphai is the man they chose to head the kitchen, bringing with him 20 years of experience in Thailand and Australia. The star student of award-winning chef, Nu Suandokmai, collaborated with Tuoi’s mother to create a seasonal menu designed to be shared over a glass of Japanese whisky or sake. Following a ‘produce to platter’ mentality, all ingredients are locally sourced, with most vegetables and herbs coming from Tuoi’s family farm in Virginia.
Start the night strong with their version of an espresso martini, the Ca Phe, which contains Vietnamese coffee and a house-made five-spice agave syrup, served with condensed milk. For something a little less intense, try a pint of
Asahi Black – one of the only venues in Adelaide to have it on tap – or one of the many Asian whiskys on offer.
When your stomach starts to rumble, take your pick from the multitude of sharing plates on offer. Go DIY with G.G.’s Tasting Plate, where all the ingredients for delicious rice paper rolls are supplied, but it’s up to you to put them together. Complement this with seared scallops, served with tamarind, lemongrass and chilli or a serve of coconut milk mussels.
If that’s not enough, there are a variety of bigger plates to dive into. Opt for the soft belly rib – tender pork ribs and belly in fresh young coconut juice – or the Vietnamese pancake, stuffed with pork and prawn. If fish takes your fancy, don’t look past the entire barramundi, de-boned and chargrilled in a betel leaf, and served with special green chilli sauce.
Finish the Asian adventure with G.G’s pudding, a combination of jackfruit pannacotta, sago pudding and vanilla ice cream, or G.G’s set cream, a take on the traditional crème brûlée.
The fit out, designed by Matiya Marovich of Sans-Arc studio, features recycled timbers and light boxes reminiscent of a street vendor as well as a colour palette of mustard, olive green, blues and burgundy, mirroring the combination of casual and refined that appears on the menu.
For a fun night out full of authentic aromas, fantastic flavours and delicious drinks, it’s hard to walk past the new kid on the block. It’s fair to say Gondola Gondola is here to stay.