Tucked away in a cute Parnell nook is a diamond in the not so rough: Asian Ruby.
Whether you're looking to reminisce after returning from South East Asia, or if you're just in the market for a nice Sunday lunch, Asian Ruby is one to look out for. Hidden from the hoards of Parnell Road, in the former home of Oriental piano bar Shanghai Lil's, just follow the orange brick road and you'll find something even Oz wouldn't be able to top.
As soon as you step inside, flavours of satay, lemongrass and kaffir lime waft through the air. With the help of the lovely wait staff, those very smells will lead you to your table to begin an authentic culinary experience.
Take a seat inside the dining room, with its low ceilings and classic Vietnamese-style décor, or venture out the back to the courtyard, where a few Tiger beers in the sun definitely won't go amiss. The vibe is relaxed throughout the restaurant and explorers are embraced; just make sure you don't leave your food for too long or food envy might get the better of another patron.
Delivered in record time, with record levels of enthusiasm, the Ha Noi spring rolls are the perfect entrée. Served on a wicker tray in their own basket, their crisp casing houses a delicious array of Vietnamese herbs, chicken mince, mushrooms and vermicelli. Also served on a traditional wicker platter, any pick of the main course is equally exciting. With an abundance of fresh offerings, such as the chilli salted lamb, or duck romantic salad, both your stomach and eyeballs are guaranteed to turn into love hearts.
If you time your trip for midday then make sure you consider the express lunch menu. The kaffir lime chicken on rice and the grilled pork belly noodle are a couple of standouts off this wee nugget of gold, as well as being great bang for your buck at $14. The menu certainly satisfies the appetite, palate and bank account and although you'll be too full to admit it, you'll leave wanting more.
Far from the racket of blaring rickshaws but with all the flavours of a street-side stall, Asian Ruby should be your next destination. It's the perfect storm, honouring the roots of its cuisine while creating its own unique flavour. Maybe even one for the travel journal.