Newly opened Banoi is bringing style and momentum to the outskirts of the metropolis. In a gastronomic push in the otherwise barren area, quality Vietnamese fare has finally sailed north to the waters of the Docklands. Cue suited businessmen, fine diners and steaming bowls of pho.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, each set of choices replicates the fresh flavours of traditional Vietnamese meals served up alongside a coffee, beer or cocktail depending on the time of day (or your mood). Whether you choose to sit down or take away, sounds as varied as Spoon, the Rolling Stones and Flume will provide the soundtrack to your order; the dishes are prepared with speed and precision either way, establishing Banoi as a go-to hotspot for many on their way to — or on a break from — work.
The egg and bacon breakfast muffins are cooked similarly to the shape of a baked treat (you won't find any muffins of the English variety here), or grab a perfectly crusty pork pastry to start your day. For lunch, try it all with the aptly-sized lunch set ($15), containing a cup of beef pho, half a BBQ pork banh mi and three spring rolls, all of which can be neatly packed up and taken back to the office if you so please. With the pieces of meat sliced a bit too thick and the broth needing a more of a kick, the pho is lacking balance, but is sure to find some consistency in due time.
A standout feature of Banoi's physical menu is its distinctive function as an order form. Specify which dishes and the quantity you're after, hand it back to the staff and let the food roll in. Place a mark against the kakuni pork belly rice paper rolls with pumpkin puree, candied chillis and roasted sesame ($6.80 per serve) and another next to the grilled chicken vermicelli noodles with honey and garlic chilli soy and kimchi sprouts ($11) for the ideal starter and main. The ingredients are clean and crisp and colourful – you'll be full, but you won't regret it.
Most of the traffic passes through during daylight hours, but the frenetic hustle and bustle generates an excitement that weeknights are yet to produce. The volume steadily increases on Friday nights, with after work drinks becoming a staple for Banoi. While not a huge space, the placement of the tables allows groups to sit comfortably on stools at dense, timber tables before large sliding windows — idyllic on a balmy night.
Bar a few minor teething problems, Banoi has the potential to be a highly sought after, cheap-eat, city restaurant for both the corporate and culinary crowd.