GONDOLA GONDOLA, Adelaide
I hadn’t heard much about Gondola Gondola – no one I know had relayed any goss’ to me on the place or the food. But, I was curious. I’d walked past a couple of times so I decided a visit was in order.
Owners Annie Liang and Tuoi Tran were lucky to score this great location at the northern end of Peel Street on the corner of Hindley. Gondola Gondola is a South East Asian eatery and sake bar. Stepping inside you feel like you’ve just entered Asia. It’s casual, with its simple timber bar and furnishings, an open kitchen and potted greenery along the windows. The chef, originally from Thailand, has many years of experience and let me tell you – he and the team are cooking up an absolute storm!
I started with the chicken and corn steamed dumplings which were on the specials blackboard. I think you can tell a lot about a place based on the quality of their dumplings. I have had so many dumplings in my time, I could easily be mistaken for one. I was pleasantly surprised at how good these were. The wrappers were silky and not at all doughy, there was a good quantity of filling, and they were served with a perfectly balanced sauce of soy, chilli and spring onions. This should become their signature dish.
The Salty Sweet Salad (vegetarian option with crispy shallots and fried garlic) was a great combination of sweetness from the apple, slight bitterness from the leaves, the tanginess of the dressing, plus a dash of chilli.
Next, the Salt and Pepper Bean Curd with ginger, crispy garlic, pickled chilli and herbs. Another really well balanced dish – not too salty nor greasy, a nice level of spiciness, and the tofu had a good crisp outer while remaining silky soft inside.
Now for the quail, or the ‘Little Grilled Bird’, as they call it. Crispy quail done with lemongrass, garlic and chilli jam. This dish was pretty much perfect. I’d rate this up there with the best quail ever! The dish comes with not one, but two halved quails on the plate and they were crispy, spicy, and slightly sweet. Not oily at all, and served with a zingy lemony, peppery dipping sauce. So good! I’ll definitely head back just for these little birds.
Finally, the Vietnamese Pancake with Pork and Prawn. This dish was massive! A beautifully presented pancake filled with mince pork and chunky pieces of prawn meat that you cut up and serve in lettuce cups with fresh herbs and cucumber and a dipping sauce. Warning: This dish is messy… but worth it!
If you’re there for some alcohol as well, they offer a choice of sake, Asian whiskies, Japanese liqueurs and Asian cocktails.
I walked out of Gondola Gondola more than satisfied. I like the food, I like the concept. I’ll be heading back for some more tasty delights.