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Forty Licks - CLOSED

An underground restaurant serving Vietnamese noodle soups and fancy cocktails.
By Marissa Ciampi
June 02, 2019
By Marissa Ciampi
June 02, 2019

Forty Licks, a Hanoi-style eatery and cocktail bar, has opened its 75-seat basement digs. It's dishing up Vietnamese noodle soups and street food, as well as cocktails with Asian ingredients, underneath York Street.

Chef Joel Manton is in the kitchen, where he's using his classical French training to recreate dishes he learnt to cook while living in Hanoi. The menu includes the likes of banh da (tapioca crackers) served with blue swimmer crab, young coconut escabeche and betel leaf; and a hot and sour seafood soup (canh chua hai san) of ocean jacket cheeks, scallop and king prawn. A selection of banh xeo (pancakes) also make the cut — with varieties including sautéed king prawn and fried bean curd with hot mint and galangal.

A dedicated barbecue and rotisserie section features Lao-style spicy pork sausage served with fermented chilli and fried sticky rice. A spicy lemongrass version of pho, called bun bo hue, is on the menu, too. As is cha ca la vong, a popular Hanoi street snack of grilled kingfish marinated in turmeric and fresh dill, served over noodles.

Award-winning Sydney bartender Kurtis Bosley (who has just opened Corrretto Dee Why) is on drinks and has created a Vietnamese-inspired cocktail list to match the menu. On it, you'll find the Lick Me Forty (tequila, dandelion and burdock bitters, vanilla syrup, egg white and lemon), the Hanoi Sour (bourbon and ginger liqueur mixed with a Peruvian purple corn beverage, lemon and pecan bitters) and the Sesamum (Bacardi Carta Blanca, pandan syrup, cucumber and lime). Alongside the cocktails is a biodynamic-focused wine list of Australian and international drops.

The venue's golden and bright yellow hues are thanks to local design firm GSBN Studios, which created a tiered dining room that is meant to emulate the look of Vietnam's rice paddies. Expect sculptural bamboo installations as the main feature, along with exposed sandstone and timber aplenty, with a mix of high table and booth seating on offer.

Images: Jason Loucas.

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