After a brief absent stint from the restaurant scene to focus on my own culinary creations, I felt that it was time to jump back on the horse and bring you another semi-regional review. With my friend Jarrod flying in from Melbourne, I saw the perfect opportunity to head out to the picturesque and world renowned Barossa Valley to show him the sights and tease his tastebuds with amazing food and wine.
After picking Jarrod up from the airport, we took a leisurely one hour drive out to Tanunda to meet Greg and Alex, both who work in the wine industry and highly recommended the venue of choice, FermentAsian. The restaurant, which is situated in the main street, is housed in a stately home displaying German heritage charm.
Walking through the heavy solid door to the restaurant, I was struck by a heavenly waft of intense aromas which took me back to food safari’s I have done through South East Asia. This first impression created a rush of desire to get stuck into the menu on offer.
Taking our seats we were greeted and given our food menus along with what can only be described as a wine bible, rather than list, made up of a comprehensive 56 pages. Thankfully Alex brought a 2010 La Follette Pinot Noir with him, saving us all a lengthy delay and a simple starting choice of a refreshing Prancing Pony Ale or Lord Nelson Pale Ale. The restaurant has a reasonable $15 corkage fee, which is ideal for those who have come straight from purchasing wine at their favourite cellar door.
After hardly scouring the menu due to too much conversation, we were asked if we would like to have the house favourites. In what I can only describe as a first, I refreshingly discovered a restaurant that offers to serve their signature dishes in a suggested menu; this is normally something I would request in an attempt to test the waiting and kitchen staff. We received the following dishes (in order of service):
Thit lon cuon la lot: Fresh betel leaves with sticky caramelised pork and incendiary components.
Bo Wagyu cuon la lot: Grilled Wagyu beef in betel leaves.
Nen Ha Noi: Hanoi spring rolls with salad of fresh herbs and classic Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Tom sao ot: Stir fried SA squid with chilli jam and Thai basil.
Goi bo den: Grilled Barossa Black Angus beef with salad of fresh herbs.
Lon voi gung va cam: Barossa Berkshire pork belly with ginger and orange sauce.
Ca ri vit: Red duck curry with lychees and pineapple.
From the moment the first dish was placed in-front of us the delicious looking presentation kicked my salivary glands into overdrive. With sight and smell taken care of it was time for my tastebuds to make the final test; I am pleased to say they were not disappointed. The flavours were outstanding, and took me on a culinary journey back to my street food tours of Asia.
The betel leaves with caramelised pork was a wonderful small, sweet start awakening the palate and leaving it wanting more. With the grilled Wagyu in betel leaf and Hanoi spring rolls following quickly thereafter I became more flabbergasted by the pungent, succulent ingredients that were used.
The freshness of each dish is a key characteristic of any Vietnamese food, but after reading that the majority of fresh vegetables and herbs used in the menu are from their very own garden I felt an even stronger sense of awe and appreciation. The restaurant also ensures that they utilise as much local produce as possible from producers who have the same ethical beliefs that they do.
As we moved through the menu, some sweeter and more concentrated flavours started to shine, especially in the stir-fried squid with chilli jam, Barossa Berkshire pork belly and red duck curry with lychees and pineapple. The rich flavours were once again complimented and at the same time softened by the fresh aromatic herbaceousness of the garden greenery.
The servings may not have appeared generous, but as lunch came to a close it was evident that the precise required amount had been served. The balanced complexity of each dish gave great insight into the Vietnamese culture, accurately depicting that which you might find on the streets and in local restaurants of Asia; the supplementary Australian infusion worked wonderfully and demonstrated a successful mix of cultures has been mastered by the owners.
With more traditional German and modern Australian fare generally the only offerings throughout the region this lively, modern establishment is highly regarded and recommended by locals, industry folk and now also by me! Book yourself a local tour of Vietnam right here in our legendary and celebrated ‘backyard’ at the exclusive FermentAsian in the Barossa Valley.
Average Menu Pricing
Vegetarian $8.00 - $22.00
Seafood $16.00 - $31.00
Meat $14.00 - $26.00
Dessert $10.00 - $12.00
Where: 90 Murray Street, Tanunda, SA, 5352
Trading: Lunch Thursday to Sunday 12pm – 2:30pm
Dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6.00pm - 9.30 pm
Other times by prior arrangement
Contact: (08) 8563 0765