Vina Vegetarian Restaurant seems lesser known in Newtown than Green Gourmet but I was more interested in tasting its Vietnamese cooking, craving some fresh vegetables and herbs. We arrived early and had no trouble securing a table; the demand for eat-in and takeaway food only grew over the next hour or two.
Vina's menu runs to several pages - though it's not clearly marked, I gather that most dishes are vegan, and the introductory page says they'll try their best to accommodate any declared dietary requirements. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, seeming very much up to that task. There's a range of fried and fresh foods, mock meats and whole vegetables: salads, soups, noodles, rice paper wraps, stir fries, hot pots and rice.
Safe within the walls of a vegetarian restaurant, we tried an entree whose name we didn't recognise - Xui Cao ($6) - and were treated to some crunchy-fried dumplings filled with finely minced vegatables, tofu and noodles.
We find it impossible to resist sweet, pillowy steamed mock BBQ pork buns wherever we find them ($4.50).
Michael focused mainly on a bowl of vermicelli with spring rolls, some delightfully flavoured and shredded mock chicken, lettuce, mint, cucumber and dipping sauce ($12).
I was at least as impressed again by the DIY rice paper rolls ($16) - they featured a mix of tofu, mock beef and crispy-skinned mock pork rubbed with lemongrass and spices, served with the requisite vermicelli, lettuce, mint, vegetables and dipping sauce. We couldn't bear to leave a shred of this behind.
While Vina is not particularly atmospheric, it had a appealing golden light on this grey evening and the staff were welcoming. The food - particularly our main dishes - was terrific! The noodle soups, noodle bowls and fried rice plates are especially good value at just $12 each. If only I lived a little closer, I'd love to slink in for regular low-fuss feeds.
Every blogger who's posted about Vina would recommend you visit, see exploding wonder storm castle, vegansydney.com, Sydney Food Guide, Diary of a Ladybird, Conquering King Street, Newtown, Compassionate Vegetarians and I Ate Sydney.
395 King St, Newtown NSW
(02) 9557 0456
veg entrees $4-6, mains $6-18
Accessibility: Vina has a ramp on entry and moderate-to-tightly spaced tables. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets, but Toilography did.