Sydney adores Vietnamese food. We line up for banh mi baguettes, we fawn over pho and we know our popiah from our pancakes. We also love grazing. Everyone's a grazer deep down.
Bay Tinh has long served much loved, well-priced Vietnamese cuisine, and now they offer more banh duc for your buck. Bay Tinh Crows Nest have recently introduced a new vapas menu, offering seven tapas-style small dishes with matching wines from Robert Oatley at $49.50 per head (minimum two people). Owner Harry Hoang has created the menu to showcase the flavours of Vietnam, within a fuss-free set menu.
Bay Tinh is charming; tucked behind an unassuming exterior on Falcon Street this gem is a red-walled, lamp-lit wine bar complete with oriental cushions and banquettes. To start, you'll indulge little rice cakes and a Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc. The cakes are smooth and rich in coconut; the citrus of the wine complementing the bite of prawn within. Next up is the Tamarind soft shell crab with Great Southern Riesling. The curious combination of the fruity wine and the crispy crab works an unexpected treat, the lively tamarind piquancy balances the sweetness of the drop. Harry thinks this is the best Salt and Pepper Calamari in town, and he may well be right. It is light, barely battered and perfectly spiced. With the Margaret River Chardonnay alongside, the flavours are crisp and clean.
The pork skewers which follow are tender, delicately spiced and accompanied by that favourite sticky, fragrant, salty-sweet sauce, hoisin. The Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir is the accompanying drop. Tender cubed beef, served with Mclaren Vale Shiraz, is a next and a definite highlight. The beef, tender and fragrant with spices, is cut with a salty dipping sauce and the peppery notes of the shiraz. And at the risk of offending those of a slightly sensitive nature, I have to say the next dish really is the duck's guts. Duck Curry is served with the Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. The curry, spiked with lychees and star anise, is rich and earthy, balanced well by the chosen tipple.
Et pour finir, the dessert. Mandarin and Lychee mousse makes the most of the popular flavours of the Viet, and it sits well with the honeyed mellowness of the Craigmoor Botrytis.
Vietnamese cuisine is about the balance of elements, the freshness of local ingredients and the elegant fusion of French and traditional styles. Bay Tinh has all the elements just right. Tasty food, fine wine, minimal fuss and reasonable prices work to make Bay Tinh an enjoyable evening out.