Hot in the City: Bui’s Restaurant brings the flavours of Vietnam to Kingston

Amelia Bidgood 19 July 2021 12
Banh xeo at Bui's Restaurant in Kingston

The banh xeo is a secret menu item at Bui’s Restaurant in Kingston. Photos: Amelia Bidgood.

I’ve visited the fabulous country of Vietnam several times, so when I dine at a Vietnamese restaurant, memories of devouring a crunchy Banh Mi from restaurants visited by food royalty like Anthony Bourdain, and sitting on little plastic stools in the streets slurping on bowls of delicious noodles swimming in flavoursome broth, laden with fresh herbs are instantly evoked.

So I was excited to discover Kingston’s newest Vietnamese eatery, Bui’s Restaurant. The restaurant opened just over a month ago on Giles Street in the space previously occupied by Madam Woo.

It’s owned and operated by siblings Nam and Thanh Bui. Nam knew it was time to make his food dream come to life when he saw the site was available.

“I’ve been cheffing for 15 years and I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant. When I saw the opportunity in Kingston, I knew it was the time to continue to build my skills and bring fresh produce and delicious Vietnamese food to the people of Kingston,” he said.

Nam is the head chef and his offsider in the kitchen is his sous chef, Suriya. The pair share a friendship of 20 years, and between them they have 30 years’ experience working in various hospitality roles.

Nam Bui, Thanh Bui and Suriya

Nam Bui, Thanh Bui and Suriya from Bui’s Restaurant in Kingston.

Vietnamese art and décor are tastefully displayed on the walls and throughout the restaurant. It seats 70 people and there’s an additional dining room behind the kitchen. The restaurant is long and quite narrow, and the ceiling is curved, a feature that already existed and made me think of sitting under the roof of a Vietnamese boat like the ones featured on paintings and hats on the walls.

Vietnamese decor

Vietnamese decor is displayed on the walls at Bui’s Restaurant. Photo: Amelia Bidgood.

Thanh has years of experience working in hospitality, so the three have combined their skills and experience to create a warm and inviting space with delicious food.

We order the duck rice paper rolls and the Vietnamese pawpaw salad served with crispy pork belly, prawns and cashew nuts. I did a quick Google search before I arrived and found some photos of a banh xeo (crispy savoury Vietnamese pancake) but I couldn’t find it on the menu.

I love this dish, so I ask Thanh about it. It’s not on the menu, but they’re happy to make it. Of course, I want to try the secret menu item, so I put an order in for one.

Pawpaw salad with pork and prawns

The pawpaw salad with pork and prawns is a fresh and flavoursome dish at Bui’s Restaurant in Kingston. Photo: Amelia Bidgood.

As we wait for our lunch, tables of other couples and small groups fill up the restaurant and a few people pick up takeaway orders.

Each dish is fresh and flavoursome, exactly what you would expect them to be. There’s a balance of sweet and salty with a hint of chilli.

The banh xeo was delicious and packed with pieces of pork, prawns and fresh bean sprouts. If you order this dish, make sure you wrap a piece of it up in a lettuce leaf, top it with fresh herbs and add a spoonful of the dipping sauce.

Banh xeo

This is how you eat a banh xeo. Photo: Amelia Bidgood.

Nam brings out one of Bui’s house specials, a bowl of crispy pork belly served with green apple, garlic, chilli and lemon sauce for us to try. He tells us the vermicelli salads are also a popular option. You can choose from marinated beef, chicken or tofu fried with lemongrass. It’s served with spring rolls, mixed herbs and vermicelli noodles.

Crispy pork belly

Crispy pork belly with green apple, garlic, chilli and lemon sauce from Bui’s Restaurant in Kingston. Photo: Amelia Bidgood.

The broth for their pho is cooked for 12 to 15 hours and many of their dishes can be made gluten-free with a selection of vegan options also available.

The menu is inspired by other Asian cuisines from different restaurants and cafes Nam’s worked at, but he’s added a Vietnamese twist to each dish by using Vietnamese ingredients.

We order a Vietnamese iced coffee to finish. Next time we’ll be sure to try the DIY campfire beef rice paper rolls and the banana pancake with palm sugar, coconut and ice cream.

Bui’s Restaurant is located at 38 Giles St, Kingston and is open seven days for lunch from 11:00 am until 2:30 pm and for dinner from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

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12 Responses to Hot in the City: Bui’s Restaurant brings the flavours of Vietnam to Kingston
Sue Maloney Sue Maloney 8:56 pm 01 Jul 21

Maree Hourigan favorite dish?? X

    Maree Hourigan Maree Hourigan 7:33 pm 02 Jul 21

    Sue, the pancake was good. Not on there menu, and the crispy pork with apple.

Maree Hourigan Maree Hourigan 4:54 pm 01 Jul 21

Back there again tonight. 😋

Jenny Chieu Jenny Chieu 10:18 am 01 Jul 21

Cynthia Lam have you tried?

    Cynthia Lam Cynthia Lam 4:25 pm 03 Jul 21

    Jenny I have not! You should come with me 😉

William Parry William Parry 5:24 pm 30 Jun 21

An Nguyen for advice please

    An Nguyen An Nguyen 5:51 pm 30 Jun 21

    William Parry when you're released, let's go and hit Messina and Supabarn afterwards for the full Kingston experience 😂

Bryce Roney Bryce Roney 12:32 pm 30 Jun 21

Went there the other week, great new joint

Ruby Tran Ruby Tran 12:28 pm 30 Jun 21

Hoa Pham phải quán bữa ck nói hem?

Stephanie Mihaljevic Stephanie Mihaljevic 9:15 am 30 Jun 21

Mirna Faraj let’s go here

Vikki Clingan Vikki Clingan 6:06 am 30 Jun 21

The laksa is pretty good. 🙂 The customer service is lovely.

Shannon Parnell Shannon Parnell 10:51 pm 29 Jun 21

Angela Parnell take mum to try the banh xeo?

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