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Christmas Lunch Sized Adventures

Like much of the world, TIFFIN is on the countdown to Christmas. If you work in an office, it’s that time of year where it’s acceptable to crack open the tin of Quality Street at 9am and share them out with your mates, enjoy endless morning teas with endless variations on rum balls and apricot balls, it’s perfectly OK to go to coffee with someone and return 90 minutes later and, you attend endless rounds of team/floor/building Christmas parties. I work in a very small team (there’s me and one other person in Brisbane and one in Canberra). That means you end up being invited to everything because people feel sorry for you. In my last lunch sized adventures for the year I am writing about three restaurants I visited as part of the annual festivities. In a reflection of the fact that Australia really doesn’t have a national cuisine but has a multicultural population, all three venues were Asian.

Vietnam House
Forty people heading out to an ala carte restaurant for Christmas lunch is a real test of the venue and my patience. There is always a meal that is incorrect, or the kitchen can’t cope, or someone who doesn’t know what they ordered or can’t remember how much it is when the bill arrives. This was readily dealt with by everyone pre-ordering and paying, and being allocated a number. Upon arrival, all the wait staff needed to do was call out the number and deliver to the relevant person (yes, we did have a list for those who forgot their numbers…). Vietnam House has a very contemporary fit out inside, making a nice change from the usual laminex tables and years out of date calendars on walls that are the hallmarks of so many cheaper Asian restaurants. As with much of Australia, I’m in love with the fresh, vibrant flavours of Vietnamese food. My biggest issue is always trying to choose from a wide range of favourites. I chose well on this day with a vermicelli salad with grilled chilli beef. Because I’m a greedy guts, I also ordered Vietnamese spring rolls which were added to the salad. Both for a shade over $20. I can’t tell you what a tonic this light and refreshing salad was on a stinking hot Summer afternoon, crammed into a venue with 40 other people. Even better was the spicy green mango salad that I got to pile on top when a there was a no show in the group. The venue is licensed with some interesting preservative free ciders and ginger beers on tap though sadly, they didn’t actually have any of them available. Just the standard Strongbow, to which I said a firm no. I go past Vietnam House every day on my way to work and thought it looked like a bit of plain Jane but now I know what’s hiding behind those doors, I’ll be back for more.

152 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley  Qld  4006

Vietnam House Vietnam House on Urbanspoon

Oriental Yum Cha
What’s not to like about Yum Cha? Nothing as far as I’m concerned. This is standard Yum Cha fare but it’s very good Yum Cha fare because it’s made from scratch rather than just a packet of frozen ha gao dumplings tumbled into a pot of boiling water, then wacked into steamer baskets. I visited Oriental twice in as many weeks, once on a week day and once on a Sunday. Both times the service was spot on as far as keeping us fed and watered and miracle of miracles, there were signs on the trolleys naming the meals. No mysterious things in bamboo steamers that you’re not quite sure what they are. Owned by Aspley Oriental, they know a thing or two about running a restaurant as the Aspley location has been going strong for dozens of years. Sometimes when you have Yum Cha, they can’t deliver to the table fast enough or offer the variety you crave. Oriental had no problems with either of these issues. Even better, they offer a set price $19.90 all you can eat for 1 hour. This is perfect when you are going with a large group as everyone pays the same price (no arguing about the bill) and everyone can have as many pork buns as they want (no arguing over 3 items between 4 people). When we ate on the weekend, the bill also worked out to a round $20 a head so either way, it’s good value.

512 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley Qld 4006

Oriental Yum Cha on Urbanspoon



I walk past Jujuba every morning and afternoon. There is never anyone in there. I sent my husband there for a dinner with friends the other night. They had a great time but there was no one else in the restaurant the whole time he was there. We visited for lunch and in the enormous expanse of tables, there were only two occupied. Perhaps this is a front and they are money launderers. Jujuba has an eclectic Asian menu with dishes from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. They have a weekday lunch special of around a dozen different meals for $12.50 each including popular items such as Mee Goreng, Tofu Cashew Vegetables, Mongolian Lamb and Vietnamese Grilled Chicken. I went for the interesting sounding ‘Battered Chicken Roti Roll’. This turned out to be a breast of chicken cooked in an almost cornflake like crisp batter, sliced and served on a roti, alongside salad and a peanut sauce. It was an unusual combination but utterly delicious and totally worth the punt. I enjoyed a refreshing lemon & lychee soda which was a bit pricey at $6 but at less than $20 total for another Christmas lunch, I could hardly complain. If they are money laundering, I hope they are doing well so I can go back another time and try something else on the menu.

540 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley  Qld  4006

Jujuba Asia on Urbanspoon


8 comments… add one
  • Lizzy (Good Things) December 18, 2014, 8:25 am

    All of these sound delicious!

    • Fiona Ryan December 18, 2014, 12:35 pm

      I just can’t seem to get enough of Vietnamese at the moment Liz but if I was in Canberra, I’d also be fitting in another visit to Morks. Divine!

  • Jan Rhoades December 19, 2014, 6:13 am

    Wow, eating on the cheap and all sound delicious. Way to go although I’m not sure about the 39 work colleagues for a meal for a meal together.
    After my walk at Garden City the other morning, and finishing up way to hot and sweaty to drink coffee, I consoled myself with 3 Cadbury Roses chocolates and a little bag of Belgian chocolate biscuits. All scoffed at 8.00am with friends. I suspect I would need to do more than 3 rounds of the centre, including new extension) to walk that off.

    • Fiona Ryan December 19, 2014, 10:33 am

      Well I hope those Cadbury Roses were firm or hard centres and not wasted mint, strawberry or horror of horrors, orange fondant. The Yum Cha would be a good option for us as a family group as there is parking in the centre and it’s at the quieter end of town.

  • Mel @ The cook's notebook December 19, 2014, 11:43 am

    I’ve been eating way too many Lindor balls over the last few mornings – no one in my little home office to share them with which is both a blessing and a curse!

    I’m going to have to check out Vietnam House – love good Vietnamese food, and it’s even better if I don’t have to always drive to Sunnybank or Inala.

    • Fiona Ryan December 20, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I liked it. Probably a little more pricey than some in the Valley but enjoyable and a lot closer than Inala, as you say.

  • Sherry from sherryspickings December 26, 2014, 12:21 pm

    That’s one thing i used to hate about work lunches. It was always boiling hot and we usually had to walk for miles to the venue then get crappy food and wait for hours to get any food cos we hadn’t booked early enough so ended up with the last sitting. Then waiting for a taxi for 90 minutes to get back to work. Eek!!!
    Merry Xmas !

    • Fiona Ryan December 27, 2014, 11:03 pm

      I’m not a fan of the group lunch either so I’m glad that Vietname House worked out. The other two were smaller get togethers. All 3 were in walking distance of work. I did skip another big one though…

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