Food with Mediterranean flair served up in stylish surroundings. Photos and review by Brett Davis.
Walking into Lubu’s bright and airy space on Thao Dien Street in District 2, you immediately get the sense it would not be out of place in one of the more upscale beachside suburbs of Sydney, like Bronte or Coogee.
Opening its doors in November, Lubu is already attracting a band of loyal devotees. Run by the husband-and-wife team of Jim and Kylie Cawood (who are also behind the renowned Vino in District 1), the menu draws inspiration from around the Mediterranean region, including northern Africa, the Middle East, Greece, Italy and Spain.
This is the kind of place you can stop in for coffee or beer on the terrace while enjoying a few oysters from the bar menu (natural, VND 180,000 for six), or scale it up for a full meal from the lunch and dinner menu, which ranges from VND 200,000-850,000 for mains.
We make our visit on a Thursday for lunch and there are more than a few tables occupied. First up is the twice-cooked octopus (VND 160,000 starter, VND 200,000 main), which comes served on a bed of steamed potatoes, olives, roast tomatoes and cress. Octopus can be tricky to cook right, but on this occasion it is perfect with a lovely charred taste and the flesh still tender.
Next we try the swordfish (VND 280,000), which is seared and prepared atop steamed potatoes and squash. The tomato frito sauce and the bacon jam topping (which I could seriously eat by itself on toast) provide some punch to this meaty fish.
The portion sizes at Lubu are very generous, so they lend themselves to sharing. One of the best examples of this is the lamb souvlaki (VND 250,000). The pieces of lamb shoulder, slow braised for eight hours, rest on pita bread and are accompanied by a large dollop of tzatziki sauce and a salad of fresh mint, tomato and cucumber.
The lamb souvlaki is ultimately a dish that speaks to the heart of what Lubu is about — cuisine with great flavours, beautifully presented, but overall relaxed enough so you can dig in with your friends.
Lubu’s breakfast menu is particularly well-received on weekends, and the kitchen is open all day, so you can drop in anytime to check out this excellent addition to the city’s dining scene.