Ba’get – New Tapas Menu
Amidst a flurry of events in March, I ventured to Ba’get (by myself) to try their new tapas menu.
A slightly rainy night led me to drive in and so I couldn’t try their awesome sounding cocktails. I enjoy any Asian flavoured cocktail with mint so I think I would automatically give this Mekong Breeze (mint, ginger beer, rum & more) a thumbs up just looking at it.
There was an endless amount of food but what was different about this event was the chance for the public to buy tickets, whilst the boss, Duy Huynh, sat and ate throughout the whole night with us. I appreciated this personal touch and the welcoming of a two-way conversation with customers.
The emphasis of the night was authenticity and to get feedback from us. I met another blogger, Wandering Mint (Minty), who I had not met before. We are both Vietnamese so we were interested to see how we would judge the authenticity of dishes.
Some tapas dishes did not feel solely Vietnamese but were nevertheless done well such as the salt and pepper whitebait, salt and pepper calamari, prawn twists and sweet potato fries.
In fact the sweet potato fries were quite popular as they had a very subtle chilli flavour to add a bit of excitement to the aftertaste. They came with chilli mayonnaise, which I would prefer a bit spicier, but I understand it needs to suit everyone’s tastes.
A great, authentic idea that worked was the DIY rice paper rolls, but I believe they will come prerolled when launched instore.
Although normal to Minty and myself, it took the customers some practice to get used to the art of rolling your own rice paper roll. A common mistake is to put too many noodles as it doesn’t look like enough – but trust me, keep on adding more ingredients and it will fall apart on your first bite! So don’t go too overboard on the carbs.
‘Authentic’ is perhaps not the most accurate word to use, as everyone’s family has their own recipes and style. With his dad growing up selling banh mi in Vietnam, and his parents then coming to Melbourne and running bakeries for many years, it’s no surprise that Duy has taken his mother’s recipes to share with the public, and crowd-pleasing ones at that.
The rice paper rolls used grilled lemongrass pork, not a meat I use often at home for this (we use beef), but the seasoning and BBQ taste of the pork ensured it worked well.
I felt a little pressure to roll a good roll as a Vietnamese person, but didn’t do too badly. It also comes served with the classic dark, sweet sauce with peanuts and with a good amount of chilli in it too.
The chicken wings are a classic at Vietnamese parties, with a crunchy and crispy exterior. This version had a coating light enough so that it didn’t feel too unhealthy.
The spring rolls were longer and thinner than what I’m used to, but also used ingredients with a difference – pork and taro! Despite this, they were crunchy and delicious wrapped in lettuce and dipped in the traditional fish sauce.
An innovative dish of the night was the goi or Vietnamese coleslaw, which was served with prawn crackers. The idea was to eat the crackers with the coleslaw in it – this is not unheard of, but you don’t often see it in restaurants or at home in my case.
Personally I would have preferred a bit more fish sauce on the salad, but I think I would enjoy any Vietnamese food drenched in it…perhaps representative of Vietnamese people’s love for strong flavours.
The meatball dish or nem nuong had a bit more added flavouring than your everyday skewers that you see at festivals. It had a juicy and mouthwatering marinade and was a good finish to the main dishes.
I was happy to see Vietnamese iced coffee as a feature, although you can get this at many places. Still, the sweetness of the condensed milk and immense flavour of the coffee ensures that you can’t go wrong with it.
Something I don’t really see in Vietnamese influenced restaurants is the cassava cake as a sweet offering. It has a subtle coconut taste and the texture is a bit stickier and more glutinous than a sponge cake – but I love it. I think this will be interesting to introduce to Melburnians.
There was also some sweet bread, which I don’t think I’ve tried before. The flavour does not standout, so a customer suggested a dip to go with it. But it demonstrates how Ba’get strives to make fresh food and bakes their bread daily.
Ba’get will introduce their tapas menu on Friday and Saturday nights in addition to their already-popular lunch service, with the likes of banh mi (baguettes) and vermicelli bowls as a gluten free option.
With the street/hawker theme of the decor, Ba’get is aiming to immerse customers in a Vietnamese environment. My friend enjoys the banh mi from the Russell St store and is also Vietnamese – it’s probably one of the better banh mi shops in the CBD.
The tapas is a mixture of traditional and modern elements, meanwhile drawing from Duy’s mother’s recipes. It’s a great way to introduce Vietnamese cuisine and culture to those who are not familiar with it, so why not introduce it to someone you know?
Ba’get has two store locations – 132 Russell St and 284-294 Latrobe St (corner Latrobe and Elizabeth St ). This event was held at the second location. They have new stores to come in Watergardens and Werribee.
Mon’s Adventures was invited as a guest of Ba’get, all opinions are my own.