All images by Jonathan VDK and Genesin Studio
For Viet Next Door‘s opening, highly anticipated doesn’t even begin to describe it. A launch that was delayed for three years by unfortunate circumstances meant that the Pennington restaurant would only open a mere three weeks ago.
Viet Next Door isn’t just another new restaurant that has joined the landscape of Adelaide dining. Its existence actually tells a tale of migration and of coming home from sibling duo, Ben and Linda Phan.
The restaurant was peculiar for winning an array of national design awards, all before the doors had even opened. It’s unsurprising when you delve into the making of Viet Next Door’s fit out. A collaboration between Ben who completed his masters in design and architecture and Ryan Genesin from Genesin Studio.
This was a perfect fit as Ben’s vision, extremely detailed and so focused on specifics, was something Ryan could also see. Linda describes their collaboration as something akin to family working together.
With the interior completed and an opening date moving further into the future, Viet Next Door did not lose momentum purely through word of mouth. For Ben and Linda, winning Best Restaurant Design at the Melbourne Eat Drink Design Awards in 2017 was a huge surprise. Under the impression that they were nominated by Ryan for merely networking reasons, neither party expected a restaurant that hadn’t even opened to take home the winning prize.
But the proof is in the pudding, a fit out with bespoke mosaic eggshell tables, granite walls and leather seated booths, showcase a juxtaposition of textures and materials. The restaurant is a love letter to Vietnamese culture through the use of simple and practical materials as well as a display of excellent modern design.
It’s no surprise that since then, Viet Next Door has won a whopping seven other design awards around the country.
However, Linda wanted it to be clear that the look comes second to the food. With her front of house and Ben in the kitchen, the eatery offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist.
After travelling for years interstate and living abroad, to everyone and his own surprise, Ben returned home to take up the mantle of chef. With Linda’s assistance, creating a menu that displays strong ties to their heritage as well as a range of culinary eccentricities.
One of their signature dishes, the Bo Kho Gnocchi is a perfect example. Linda says that the Vietnamese beef stew is traditionally served with yellow egg noddles and bread rolls. Instead at Viet Next Door you will be served your Bo Kho with freshly made gnocchi.
Their smaller dishes also display that level of care. Their garlic chicken wings, whilst a staple, are cooked in a sweet caramelised fish sauce. Similarly, the kingfish is mixed with a variety of Vietnamese herbs, and a ginger and chilli fish sauce. This is Ben using Vietnamese street food as inspiration and elevating it to high dining.
Viet Next Door, in the three weeks they have been open have already impressed veterans of the industry. The answer to this is perhaps that after all this time, it remains a family endeavour. With over 35 years in the industry, the Phan family have spent a great amount of effort and money to ensure what came out is a source of pride and reflective of their culture.
Viet Next Door can be found at 73A Addison Road, Pennington, SA. Open on Friday for dinner (5:30pm – Late) and Saturday and Sunday for lunch (11.30am-3.30pm) and dinner.