“Le Très Bon is a labour of love by master chef Christophe Gregoire, born and raised in France’s Les Vosges region,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON
I’M not a vegan but love well-prepared vegan dishes because they’re vibrant looking and super tasty. Deep down it’s likely more that eating in a vegan place helps me justify eating out. I am, after all, fuelling my body well, aren’t I?
The new vegan restaurant in Kingston, An Nguyen, is a pleasant and laid back place. The colours are bold and based around fruit – limes, oranges, lemons. Just in case you’re wondering, “an” is “inner peace from compassion” and “nguyen” is “a beginning”.
The restaurant encourages healthy food choices for the body, with everything prepared using solely plant-based ingredients. The menu is inspired by the traditional cuisine of Vietnam, says An Nguyen. Indeed, the restaurant declares that the food is designed to “delight the senses, uplift the spirit and instil a feeling of inner peace through compassionate, life-saving food choices”. That sets the scene for you.
We started with the tasty mushroom fritters ($8.90 for five) and the restaurant kindly offered to adjust the number in the serve so we could enjoy two each. It’s a small gesture but makes sharing so much easier.
The curries are beautiful and the depth of flavours captivating ($19.50). The vegetable tofu variety was rich, but not overly so, and brimming with vitamin-packed ingredients. The same with the snow peas and mushroom dish ($19.50). Again, a generous serve of ingredients and who can go wrong with crunchy snow peas?
Our fave dish (not that we didn’t enjoy them all) was the eggplant hotpot ($19.50). It was divine and the combination of intense flavours superb (slightly sweet for some, perhaps, but not us). I’ve been craving it since the first bite.
The dishes we avoided, only based on personal preference, were the “pretend meat” ones (created with soy meat). I don’t know if it’s psychological, but I’ve never been able to get my head wrapped around the notion. Still, many do and An Nguyen has an impressive line-up (all $19.50), including chicken veg and cashew nuts, roast duck, satay beef and Mongolian lamb.
Soup fans can dig into a hearty soy seafood sour soup or soy beef sour soup ($19.50). Other full-meal soups include the deluxe noodle ($16.50) and the royal spicy noodle ($14.50).
If you’re confused about what to order, or can’t decide, the banquet options are a good bet. An Nguyen also offers lunch boxes for $12.50, which all come with steamed rice. And there are special deals on Monday and Tuesday that are worth checking out. Healthy juices and cakes are also on offer to round off your An Nguyen experience.
An Nguyen Vegan Restaurant, 54 Giles Street, Kingston. Call 5105 9888. Open seven days, 11am-2.30pm and 5pm-9.30pm.