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City hotel's tasty backyard business

Restaurants

An Adelaide hotel has turned a backyard garage and its contents into a pop-up Vietnamese-style restaurant and bar.

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Vietnamese Garage opened last week in the backyard of the historic Rob Roy Hotel on Halifax Street, offering popular Vietnamese foods such as pho and banh mi in a makeshift outdoor setting.

“The Rob Roy wanted something different for lunch for its customers,” says Vietnamese Garage co-owner Vu Duong, who previously ran Victoria Square  restaurant The Saigon Times (now closed).

Duong, who also helped design the menus at Vietnamese restaurants Miss Mai (Gawler Place, Adelaide) and Viet Menu (Colonnades Shopping Centre, Noarlunga), is a home automation system designer who says he “just loves eating”. He was invited to set up a restaurant in the Rob Roy garage after the hotel was bought 12 months ago by Kristian Livolsi and Frank Vounasis, who also own The Taxpayer on Victoria Square.

“Frank said: ‘Can you do something in my garage?’”

At Vietnamese Garage, Duong offers a Vietnamese street-food menu including cold rolls, noodle bowls, pho and banh mi. The kitchen facilities are basic, so the main food preparation is done inside the hotel kitchen. The original garage space acts as a servery and bar.

Beyond the garage, a casual outdoor eating and lounge area has been created using recycled materials.

“Everything that was inside the shed has been used to do the fit-out,” says Duong.

“Frank did the fit-out. He turned old wooden pallets into decking and bench seating.”

As well as serving a range of beers, wines and cocktails, Vietnamese Garage offers traditional Vietnamese drinks, such as smoothies (avocado, durian, custard apple and jackfruit), salted fruit drinks (made with preserved lemon and plum) and iced coffee (made with condensed milk).

“Vietnamese don’t drink fresh cows’ milk because all the cows are working cows; they use condensed milk,” explains Duong, who migrated to Adelaide from Rachgia in south Vietnam with his parents in 1984.

“At this stage, Vietnam Garage will open from Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 2.30pm,” he says.

“As the weather warms up, we will open for dinner on summer evenings.”

Entry to Vietnamese Garage is from Queen Street.

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Vietnamese Garage outdoor eating and seating area.

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Vietnamese Garage bar. Photo: Tony Lewis

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Prawn cold rolls. Photo: Tony Lewis

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Lemongrass chicken noodle bowl. Photo: Tony Lewis

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Honey soy chicken banh mi. Photo: Tony Lewis

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