Generally I try to keep my birthdays low key, and are never inclined to have parties or anything in my honour.

I think as each year passes though, I’m becoming more likely to actually do something for my birthday.  Siboun and I have the same birthday, and so this year we decided to go to Red Lantern in Sydney’s Surry Hills for a joint birthday and Christmas dinner with a few friends.

Everyone at the table (except me, I'm taking the photo!)

We had a table outside, which unfortunately is covered as this particular night was beautiful.  The setting was still quite nice, and contained many eponymous red lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

They have two tasting menus, one which includes more seafood than the other.  We decided on the one with extra seafood, partly so that Mikey and I could have each course matched to a wine.  When we ordered, we were told that there wasn’t enough time to have the matching wines!

We still ordered the tasting menu, and a couple of bottles of the actually quite nice house Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc.

Let me tell you, the food was amazing!  My friend Mark, who is now living in Laos, raved and raved after he first frequented this restaurant and he was right.  I’m pissed off it took me a couple of years to actually get there!

More and more food kept coming, and each course seemed nicer than the last, which was seemingly impossible due to the calibre of each dish!

We then rolled our way up Crown St to the Clock for more than a few post-dinner beverages.

All in all, it was a fantastic night and a fantastic meal.  I would have to easily say the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had.  The only real downside is the service was very rushed to get us out in time for the next reservation.  In their defence, they did warn us when we made the reservation (only a few weeks in advance) that they were squeezing us in and we had to be out within two hours.

The damage: around $100 a head including four bottles of wine.  The tasting menu was excellent value at $65 a head.

Nick’s rating: * * * * * (five out of five)

Photo gallery: http://www.nickspics.net/v/Parties/2009/1219-Red_Lantern/