Wellington has a fresh new addition with The Old Quarter. Owner-chef Tony (Huy) Dong is no stranger to Wellington's hospo scene, having worked for the past 16 years at Chow and more recently, Asian fusion restaurant Dragonfly, there is no question that Dong knows what tastes good and what Wellingtonians really want.
The menu here showcases modern Vietnamese cuisine that’s designed to share, housed within a fun, open, and inviting fit-out that’s ideal for both bigger groups or an intimate table of two.
Situated right in the centre of town just off Cuba Mall on Dixon St, The Old Quarter is the perfect place for dinner before a show or a quick lunch stop with mates. The vibe is energetic yet relaxed, and the attentive staff are quick to educate on the menu style and how exactly to do it justice.
Sharing makes the menu that much more enjoyable, when given the opportunity. It’s a win when there’s more to try, and you’re able to challenge your palate – just make sure you order enough.
Naturally, my visit kicked off with a chilled Asahi because it just felt right and it always goes down well with a bit of spice. On offer is a range of local and imported beers, affordable cocktails and wine to fit any occasion or flavour situation.
To eat, we start with the classics – salt and pepper squid, fried till golden and served with a kimchi mayo. We then sample the cashew Peking duck with coriander, spring onion, lemongrass and fresh lettuce cups. If you’re hungry, opt for the house-made Bao buns, with crispy five-spice roast pork, cucumber, coriander and hoisin, or satisfy your Bao craving with the barbecue chicken marinated in honey and lemongrass, served with a hearty dollop of Sriracha mayo. Both buns were on point. Flavoursome, fluffy and beautifully soft.
To balance things out somewhat, we order the summer rolls, a classic Vietnamese rice roll with tofu and mixed vege. All the meals were a great combination of fresh produce and well-cooked proteins, marinated in the flavours of the Hanoi.
With a few well-advised recommendations from the staff, we order the perfect amount of food, with just enough room for a sweet treat at the end. We finish with the coconut panna cotta and berries.
The panna cotta is beautifully silky with a punchy coconut flavour. Although most meals on the menu here are designed to share, The Old Quarter comfortably caters for the individual popping in for a quick eat. But in the end, some things are just better shared, split down the middle or divvied up by the table – even desert. Should you call in, remember that age-old adage, sharing is caring.
The Old Quarter,
39b Dixon Street,
Opening hours: Monday–Sunday,
11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 12am.
"Sharing makes the menu that much more enjoyable, when given the opportunity. It’s a win when there’s more to try, and you’re able to challenge your palate – just make sure you order enough."