Tran’s Restaurant – Vietnamese in Mosman

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!

The entrance to Tran's

The entrance to Tran’s

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.

Tran's has won many awards

Tran’s has won many awards

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. IMG_1467When 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 interior space isn't anything flash

The interior space isn’t anything flash.  There I am with Tri and he’s talking me through the specials.

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.

Minced Goat in young betel leaves $16.00

Minced Goat in young betel leaves $16.00

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.

Up close with the betel leaf

Up close with the betel leaf

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.

Crisp Rice Pancake $16.00

One half of the Crisp Rice Pancake $16.00

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.

Twice-cooked quail $16.00

Twice-cooked quail $16.00

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.

Twice-Cooked Quail $16.00

See the crispy skin

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.

Twice-Cooked Pork Ribs $29.00

Twice-Cooked Pork Ribs $29.00

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.


Grilled Lime Chicken $28.00

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.

Eye-fillet of beef with  morning glory $28.00

Eye-fillet of beef with morning glory $28.00

Ice cream and sorbet with fresh fruit and frozen grapes

Ice cream and sorbet with fresh fruit and frozen grapes

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.

Desserts were enjoyed with a botrytis wine

Desserts were enjoyed with a 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.

Chocolate nougat ice cream with fresh fruit

Chocolate nougat ice cream with fresh fruit

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. IMG_1463Verdict:  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!


  1. You know even after living in Mosman for years, we still never made it here! We had Vietnamese tonight and I kept saying to Mr NQN how much I love it 😀

  2. Right, Tran’s is definitely going on my list for next time I’m in Sydney. Yum!

  3. Nothing better than a night out with good food and friends. Sounds like a great place! And also sounds like you had a wonderful time. Fun post – thanks.

  4. Good food, good wine and good friends makes time fly by!

  5. The rice pancake looked pretty tasty!

  6. Looks like a lovely restaurant. I would like to take a taste of everything you and your friends ordered!! Cheers to long time friends 🙂

  7. Looks so good!!! We have quite a few Asian restaurants in our little town, but not sure any of them are very authentic!

  8. Sounds like a fabulous meal with fresh ingredients in each dish and a great evening enjoying it all. I love the triangular molds for the desserts.

  9. That looks delicious. The prompt service but perfect breaks sounds like they’ve got it down to a fine art!

  10. Very impressed at how all the dishes are presented. I eat a lot of vietnamese food (being vietnamese) and these dishes actually look great. It’s definitely a modern take on some of the traditional dishes!

  11. Definitely on my list, this place looks absolutely delicious 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. I love dining with foodie friends…especially if they’re willing to share! The food looks wonderful!

  13. Oh sad, you didn’t have the green paw paw salad! Som Tum is one of my MUST-ORDERS whenever I see it on a menu 🙂

  14. The food looks lovely and fresh! I would love to go to Tran’s one day just to see how it compares to places such as Red Lantern etc.

  15. Yay! Charlie gets a good meal finally! This reminds me of our favourite Chinese. It’s just like that inside, nothing flash at all but the food is great and the service really quick.

  16. G’day Charlie and what a great restaurant review!
    I love Vietnamese food and the goat meat in betel leaves looked like a great way to start the evening off too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  17. I adore Vietnamese food so much- such great play of textures and flavours makes it exciting to eat! I would have definitely ordered those pork ribs too Charlie, they look delicious 🙂 xox

  18. I love Vietnamese food but often it is difficult finding a restaurant in which to order it – or at least here in Perth. Most places are super casual diner-type eateries, with plastic furniture and not much seating. I don’t mind those places but if I want to go out to dinner, I usually want a restaurant. Trans sounds great!

  19. Like the others, I enjoy Vietnamese food, too, Charlie, and we’re lucky to have a few really good restaurants in the area. The meal you enjoyed was a very good one, each dish looked fantastic and your descriptions made me wish I was there. 4 hours must be the time allotment for a great meal with friends. Just last Sunday for of us went to a rather celebrated chef’s restaurant and we, too, were there for 4 hours, thought it hardly seemed it. In fact, we were all a bit surprised to learn the time. 🙂

  20. Glad you found one that you enjoy! I do like vietnamese food.

  21. my kind of food

  22. Four hours? Now THAT is my kind of dinner! I would have gone for the quail as well. Here in San Miguel, we have good Japanese, poor Chinese, worse Indian, marginal Thai, but no Vietnamese food, which is just too bad as I love it.

  23. That sounds great and the food looks delish.

  24. Everything looked delicious! I had never heard of BYO to a restaurant until we moved to the east coast. Evidently that’s quite popular with restaurants here.

  25. Looks great 🙂 The twice cooked pork ribs definitely stole my heart hehe and of course the ice-cream! Wish I was in Sydney more so I could come and visit more amazing places you guys have to offer!

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