"My approach to food is dictated by balance and by history. Balance, being how flavour and textures complement and contrast, and history, being both my own heritage and the anatomy and origins of a dish in the context of cultures and tradition."
Beef carpaccio with pencil leek and ginger mint; duck with mustard leaf, bean curd, and noodles; and Vietnamese blood pudding with ginger and herbs.
The food of Vietnamese-Australian Chef Thi Le – delectable though it is – is not, in her eyes, simply food. It’s a story of heritage and displacement, and growing up in Australia at a time when the scarcity of Asian ingredients meant making do. Her beef carpaccio, for instance, references how her mother used to use up the leftover beef prepared for pho noodle soups, with its compelling mix of spice, texture, and pungency. The anatomy and origins of each dish in this easy-going Richmond diner can be picked apart in the context of cultures and tradition (roasted Moreton Bay bugs with a Café de Paris butter made with fish sauce, chilli and butter from Butterfly Factory – discuss). Or you could just settle in with a cocktail that combines the yin of good booze with the yang of Oriental medicine's herbal approach to wellness.
"Le's food is light, vibrant, and refreshing, reminiscent of South-East Asian authenticity yet at the same time new."
–John Lethlean, The Australian