Readers of my recent posts may have found that I’ve been doing a lot of coverage on bars with a focus on Asian cuisine. As these have all been invites from PR agencies, there’s clearly something up. A trend towards a more Asiatic clientele? The effort to do something different? The belief that by serving something non-standard, something new and interesting comes about?
Then again, such a trend isn’t new, so bars have really got to try hard to stand out from the rest. Good enough is good, but better is great. If I remember a place, then it has succeeded.
Read on to see how The Flynn fits in this puzzle. You’ll want to see it pans out.
Date Last Visited: 6/2/14
Address: 2a Bligh Street Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): banh mi (seriously)
Of the bars I’ve been to that serve Asian cuisine, the overwhelming majority of them do Chinese food. Usually it’s in the form of dim sum/dumplings and the like. Mains are usually a bit more Western, so it’s really a bit of a hybrid. I’ve yet to actually go to a bar that does Vietnamese – and that’s where The Flynn steps in to fill the gap. Well, actually, it’s Vietnamese-French-Australian, depending on how many cuisines you want to add up. Whatever.
Now I know what you’re thinking – is Vietnamese cuisine really suitable for the Sydney bar scene? Bars these days tend to be quite fancy with their food (a look at my last post on Donny’s Bar is a pretty good example). While that is possible to some degree, I’m sure that almost nobody would think it right that Vietnamese cuisine should be given the same treatment. Its low-cost, street-style nature is what defines the class of cuisine that’s Vietnamese. Will you pay $15 for banh mi, for example?
Ultimately, it comes down to taste, and whether your dollars are worth paying for that taste. I’ll just say this – if you’re thinking of The Flynn as a replacement to your regular Bankstown Vietnamese fix, then you’re looking at it wrong.
It’s immediately apparent that The Flynn is a nice looking bar, with the pictured section showing the restaurant section, with the cover photo showing the front bar section. If you want to sit down and have lunch, you’d better decide which menu you’ll be ordering from, as the two sections don’t service each other. I’m sure exceptions can be made.
Another occasion where I managed to grab a menu photo for you guys – this is subject to change however. Unlikely though, given that this menu was only introduced at the beginning of February.
Drinks at The Flynn are decent. While my friend and I got drinks from the “virgin” (read: non-alcoholic menu), it’s a good indication of what their alcoholic drinks will be like.
The fruit punch was reported to be quite fresh – the “freshly squeezed” notion being thrown about fairly liberally here. Upon sipping myself, I agree.
My drink, the strawberry mint fizz came in a bit underwhelming as it started off with a rather wilted/rotten strawberry. The drink itself wasn’t too bad though – it was very, very sweet. But I think that’s because it contrasts with a prior tasting of the fruit punch, which would mess around with the palate a bit.
My friend and I went for a pattern of 2 entrees, 2 mains and 1 dessert. Entrees were Western, mains were Vietnamese, returning to Western for the dessert. For the record, this mix and match doesn’t spoil anything. It’s all harmony over here!
Given the choices on the menu and our palates, we had no difficulty in choosing the zucchini blossoms. I don’t get to eat these often, the last time being at Encasa.
Deeeeeeeelish. These are really good; crunchy but not outrageously substantial batter surround juicy zucchini which is brought up to excellent softness, yet avoids being burnt. There is inconsistency in the amount of cheese stuffed in each one, but if you do get one with the right amount, then you’re in for some tasty filler.
Who ever thought to deep fry and stuff cheese in these things? Works so well!
The second entree of twice cooked polenta fries are insanely thick and fulfilling. This dish quickly expedited the process of filling us up, despite there being only four of them. The Flynn is definitely going for the more stomach-satiating route, rather than the cravings route with thin-cut chips.
Polenta probably works better this way anyway – soaking up the provided tomato sauce and consuming is an experience best described as “convivially guilty”.
If you were wondering, I preferred the zucchini flowers more over the polenta chips.
The mains duo makes its starry entrance. It’s quite a visually enticing set – cut up banh mi resting on wood, accompanied by a generous bowl of vietnamese rice noodles. But you’re going to have to question us, don’t you.
Yes, can you believe we got banh mi? We would not have, but it came highly recommended to us. We were somewhat (well, quite) dubious, especially given that it costs $15 (or $12 on Thursdays). If you’re especially passionate about traditional Vietnamese cuisine, then you’re probably spitting out your ca phe da right now.
While I could easily start a neverending debate on what constitutes “true” banh mi, I’ll just settle it by saying this: if you get banh mi at The Flynn and expect it to taste comparably to the likes of Marrickville Pork Roll or Bay Ngo, then you should not get it.
You’re sensing a but here, and you’re right. This is the part where I declare “I don’t care”, because the banh mi at The Flynn is actually frigging stunning.
The bread: crusty shell, soft insides that aren’t too airy. It’s not going to crack like banh mi bread does, but I’m safely calling this a great bread roll to start with. Also yes, you’re getting a lot more bread than normal, which goes towards partly explaining the cost. Take a look at the picture again – this is actually a sizeable banh mi – much wider and thus voluminous than normal.
The veggies: carrots & cucumber could have used more pickling, shallots are fantastic. Nothing much else wrong here.
The meat: this is where The Flynn is doing its own thing. You probably won’t find this kind of chicken served in traditional banh mi. It’s like a “sweet srirarcha mayo chilli” chicken with that slight hint of sweetness in the mayo that’s very Vietnamese. That’s probably the best way to describe it. One who knows me well already knows how much I’m going to praise this chicken – sriracha is a GOD of sauces. To infuse this kind of flavour and pair it with a sweet/sour Vietnamese palate is no easy feat. Yet, I feel as if The Flynn has pulled it off. It’s scrumptious. If you can’t take spice however, then this may not be for you.
It also happens to be quite tender, and exists in ample quantities in the banh mi. It could be dry at places, but that’s about as much as I’m going to fault it.
The existence of this chicken is also why there is no pate on the banh mi – it doesn’t need it. At the same time, this essentially disqualifies it from being banh mi, but remember my three words earlier?
It does get a bit messy to eat because it’s so big – you’ve really got to squeeze everything together, otherwise you’re going to have trouble – especially if you have a small mouth like me.
Did I mention that the chips are really good as well? Hit them up with some of that sriarcha mayo – it’ll do wonders.
Next to the gloriousness of the banh mi, Mrs. Dang’s noodle bowl is a disappointment, to say the least. I’m not sure what dish this is emulating, but it does involve bún (thin rice vermicelli), a fair bit of beef, and a really strange tangy sauce/soup that you can add at your discretion.
Big problem here is that it tastes a bit too sweet. Kind of like an off-tang. Pretty much throws off the entire dish, really.
The beef wasn’t cooked all that well either, with lots of tough chewy parts. That said, the parts that were good did have the flavour to boot.
Luckily, we had a nice dessert to wipe away all previous tastes. Ain’t many things sweeter than a sticky date pudding w/poached rhubarb. This is fairly comparable to the one at Jones the Grocer, though is inferior to that. That said, this pudding is still pretty good – solid scoop of ice cream to give that deliciously juxtaposed chill, and plenty of moisture within the pudding itself. A good way to finish things off!
Do you think The Flynn’s banh mi is worth it? Go on a Thursday for $12, and decide for yourself. I could honestly see myself eating it again, but naturally it’s no replacement for Vietnamese banh mi. That said, the feeling’s mutual.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- A surprisingly well executed take on banh mi
- Decent drinks & entrees
- Nice decor
Not so Awesome:
- paying $15 for banh mi raises eyebrows
- Mrs. Dang’s noodle bowl is best avoided