Tri and Lanna Tran opened Tran’s Restaurant in 1995. For nearly 20 years it has been a much loved restaurant by locals for a number of reasons; it’s centrally located, it’s BYO, the prices are reasonable and then there’s the food!
We went to Tran’s on a Saturday night to catch up with long-standing friends of more than 25 years. Chris and Karen are both food enthusiasts and very good home cooks and entertainers so going out with them is fun not only for their company but also for how they love to talk about every mouthful.
We arrived just after 7pm and already the restaurant was filling up fast. It’s not a large restaurant; there is seating on the ground floor for up to 80 people and upstairs there are private dining rooms for between six and 22 guests. Because Tran’s is popular (and because it’s courteous to do so), I would definitely recommend making a reservation. When you walk into Tran’s you are enthusiastically greeted by Tri who appears never to forget a face. When not greeting his patrons he stands in a little booth in the middle of the restaurant smiling at all his diners.
The service is extremely efficient with a waitress asking if she can bring us some water almost before we had even sat down. Tri came over and explained the specials which are written on blackboards positioned around the room. Between the specials and what was on the menu, there were so many dishes we wanted to try, the four of us almost got into a fight (a friendly one) trying to decide.
We eventually settled on three entrees and three mains to share between us. It doesn’t take long for the first of the entrees to appear. The first to arrive was one of the specials and was minced goat on a betel leaf. There was a generous amount of filling piled high on the leaf so it was almost a struggle to wrap the little parcel. I loved the contrast of the softness of the minced goat with the crunch of the betel leaf. The flavour was incredible as there were so many textures and the goat was beautifully seasoned with fresh herbs and lime juice.
The next dish was the Crisp Rice Pancake. It was amazing to me how a pancake so thin and crispy is still pliable enough to be wrapped. This dish at Tran’s is one of the most popular on the menu. The pancake is filled with marinated prawns and pork and fresh herbs and is an unbelievable taste sensation.
We certainly had to order the Twice-Cooked Quail. The quail arrived cut into portions and the skin on the quail was crispy and the meat tender. The quail was seasoned with salt and lime juice and had me licking my lips and wishing for more.
We had a little break between our entrees and the arrival of the mains and I do like it when restaurants leave enough time for you to digest your first course but not so much you’re left dangling.
The first main course to arrive was the Twice-Cooked Pork Ribs that were flavoured with cardamon and chilli and served with coriander and gai choy. I’m a fan of cardamon but as it has a powerful taste, I like it in moderation. I was pleased the pork was delicately flavoured with the cardamon. The pork was extremely soft and tender and fell apart easily into bite-sized pieces. The crunchy steamed greens were a wonderful contrast to the softness and richness of the pork.
Grilled Lime Chicken arrived next and was served with bok choy, coriander and cinnamon with a lime and pepper sauce. The chicken was tender and moist and we found this to be very refreshing with clean flavours.
Our final main course was a special. It was eye fillet of beef with morning glory. The beef was served medium rare, was juicy and very tender. The morning glory was crisp and crunchy and again, this was a wonderful contrast of textures.
We shared two desserts between the four of us. Not that we needed them! But they were ice creams and sorbets that sounded like a good way to end the evening especially as Chris had brought with him a bottle of botrytis wine.
Somehow, between the food and the company, we ended up being in the restaurant for over four hours. A sign of an enjoyable evening for sure.
You won’t find slick decor and a lot of space between tables at Tran’s. But what you will find is genuine enthusiasm, warmth and hospitality from the staff, a menu that’s varied and food that will have you coming back time and time again. Verdict: Bring an empty stomach and definitely visit more than once. Tran’s Restaurant: 523 Military Road, Spit Junction, Mosman NSW Ph: 61 2 9969 9275 If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!