Every second eatery that opens these days seems to be either a burger joint or a dessert place. The opening of Gin Long Canteen on the popular O’Connell Street cafe precinct sees the emergence of street food on Adelaide restaurant tables. From the same people that brought you Concubine, the menu has a focus on Asian street food with Vietnamese and Malay influences. The dishes range from tapas to main menu items, and there’s basically something for everyone here. Like other contemporary establishments, if you can’t decide what to eat, you can opt for the banquet and the chef will make the food selections.
The interior design of this place follows closely with interstate trends. The exposed ceilings, the timber wall shelving and partitions, the tiled communal bench tops, the low hanging light fittings and the strategically placed steel work, give this place an industrial yet modern feel. The bench seating along the open kitchen and bar area cleverly maximise the use of space at this establishment, although there is ample seating both inside and out.
Today, I started off with the Grilled Chicken Satay. The chicken was well marinated and cooked to perfection. The meat was tender and succulent, and you could taste the smokey flavours from the grill. They should also get healthy bonus points for grilling instead of frying. The spicy peanut sauce was different to your traditional satay sauce, but was tasty and incredibly addictive.
Next up was the Black Pepper Chicken Banh Mi. The chicken was well marinated, tender and succulent, and it wasn’t as peppery as I had expected. The coriander was fresh and gave the roll nice depth, while the fresh chilli packed quite a bit of heat. The coriander was fresh and the pickled carrot added a nice sour pickled taste. A butter spread was used but it didn’t have too much impact. I didn’t particularly like the bread roll that was used. A good Vietnamese roll should be crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside. This particular bread roll was just fluffy and didn’t look appealing from the moment it arrived at my table.
Finally, I had the Very Exciting Vietnamese Salad. The beef was well marinated and full of flavour. The meat was tender and juicy, and you could taste the subtle hint of smokey flavours. The spring onion, mint and Thai eggplant provided refreshing Asian flavours in what was a “very exciting” dish. Not exciting from a “hot chilli” sense, but from a salad that had varying textures, depths and flavours.
The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and the service was excellent. The atmosphere was relaxed, even with the busy outside traffic. The tapas dishes are around the $12 mark and their mains can get close to $30, but that’s typical of these types of establishments. Like all good places, they have a lunch time menu where you can get a decent feed for $11 or less.
If you take out the non-crusty bread roll, this place does just about everything right. I had an pleasant dining experience and will certainly be back!
WHERE: 42 O’Connell St, North Adelaide