A far cry from the hectic streets of Hanoi, Normanby Road is the home to Auckland’s newest addition in the contemporary Viet food scene. Sen, a multi-level eatery, decked out with moody timbers, woven light fixtures and lush greenery, creates a new destination that combines Hanoi’s city feels with rural jungle vibes.
The menu is a nod to the traditional flavours and cooking methods of Vietnamese cuisine. The pho ($9) is unmistakably authentic with the aromatic Thai basil and chilli transporting you in a single waft. The melt in your mouth ‘shaking’ beef ($26) is well worth the order just prepare to want to lick the plate clean of sauce. The grilled market fish ($24.5) in a marinade of galangal, dill and turmeric, while not served whole as expected, each bite was still packed full of fresh flavour. What would an Vietnamese experience be without a plateful of sweet and juicy mango salad ($18.50) with crisp carrot, cucumber and beef topped with fresh herbs and all essential peanuts.
The cocktail list is just as lush as the rest of the menu. With obvious South East Asian inspiration, the Southern Lotus ($16) was the evening’s drink of choice. Saffron gin, elderflower, lemon, sugar and egg white for effect, was a perfect and refreshing accompaniment to the vibrant flavours of dinner.
The service is pleasant and the turn around time for orders quick. Plates can be ordered as single mains or as dishes to share. Whilst seating is plentiful it is recommended to grab a table early in the evening as it steadily fills out with Mt Eden locals. The cool atmosphere makes this the ideal location for a leisurely lunch, a midweek escape or weekend drinks with friends. With an extensive menu, multiple return trips are definitely in order.