Bite-sized Summary: With a charming, local vibe, Randwick’s La Sen is a cheap and cheerful spot for fresh, delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Offering an extensive menu with all the classics, La Sen also features a variety of dishes less commonly found around the CBD and Eastern suburbs, including the likes of claypot caramelised fish, sugarcane prawns and their signature chicken wings (finger lickin’ good is an understatement).
Nestled alongside bars, popular restaurants and shops in Randwick’s dining and entertainment hub ‘The Spot’, La Sen is a long, narrow space, with dim lighting and plentiful seating for both small and large groups.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($5.50) & Coconut Lime Crush ($7.00)
On this particularly warm September day, we turn our attention immediately to the drinks list. The traditional Vietnamese coffee is ice cold and strong with a subtle, velvety sweetness, which isn’t at all sugary. The coconut lime crush is a delicious and refreshing option, which balances sweet and sour with a burst of fresh mint.
Duck Salad Wraps (2 pcs $14.90)
From the appetisers menu, we choose the duck salad wraps filled with roasted duck, Vietnamese pickled vegetables, chopped herbs and kaffir lime leaves in a tangy lime soy sauce, bundled up in fresh lettuce. Akin to a fresh, textural Vietnamese salad, the duck in this dish was delicious and tender with a crispy skin. Unfortunately, we were unable to eat this as a wrap due to the lettuce being weighed down by the sheer amount of fillings, which were also quite wet from an excess of slightly too acidic sauce. Perhaps serving the sauce on the side for dipping would help alleviate this issue.
La Sen Chicken Wings (4 pcs $7.90)
Next, La Sen’s signature chicken wings tossed with butter, garlic, shallots and “chef’s special sweet fish sauce”. I’m not sure what kind of magic the chef puts in his special sauce but it is GOOD, really good! With juicy, tender chicken these wings are extremely moreish with well-balanced sweet, savoury and salty flavours. I’ll take 50 more of those, please…
Lotus Stem Salad ($16.90)
Served with shredded green papaya, I can imagine many people would be confused about whether they’ve received any lotus stem at all! With a creamy, white colour as opposed to the green-tinged papaya, the lotus stem has a mild, pleasantly sweet flavour, which is crunchy and texturally interesting together with the papaya, pickled vegetables, onions, green apple and roasted peanuts. Finished with sliced pork, big, juicy cooked prawns and fresh herbs, this is delicious, fresh and generous — just one of the many reasons why I love Vietnamese cuisine so much.
Special Combination Vermicelli Bowl “La Sen All in One” ($18.90)
Vermicelli bowls are one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, which I eat quite often so, I’ve had my fair share of terrible ones, excellent ones and everything in between. We opted for the “La Sen All in One”, which includes a little bit of everything — sugarcane prawns, pork skewers, spring rolls and grilled pork. Together with vermicelli noodles tossed in a tangy garlic fish sauce with fresh lettuce, cucumber, pickled vegetables, sauteed spring onions, roasted peanuts and shallots.
I loved the sugarcane prawns with their subtle, fresh sweetness (and the leftover sugarcanes, which are good to chew on), and the pork skewers, which were tender and flavoursome. Unfortunately, the grilled pork meat was a little dry and I was hoping for some more lettuce and fresh herbs to counterbalance the sheer amount of vermicelli noodles. Regardless, this is a fabulous, fresh and tasty dish.
A cheap and cheerful eatery in Sydney’s east, where great Vietnamese food is far and few between. Featuring wonderfully balanced flavours combined with fresh ingredients and generous serving sizes, La Sen is the perfect spot for a healthy and wholesome meal. Highlights include those impossibly delicious chicken wings, the ice-cold drinks and the lotus stem salad.
Thank you to the team at La Sen! Eats with Marie dined as a guest of La Sen and Ompty Media. All opinions, comments and photos are 100% honest and my own.
La Sen Vietnamese Restaurant
41 Perouse Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
Thinking of Vietnamese for your next party or event? Check out Chao Catering
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