Review: Anna’s Kitchen, Waigani


Diners don’t need to go far in Port Moresby to find good Vietnamese food, including noodle bowls, rice paper rolls and savoury pancakes. Leilani Stephen visits Anna’s Kitchen in Waigani.

Anna's Kitchen Port Moresby

Beef pho. Credit: Leilani Stephen

Tucked away inside the Central Government Office compound in Waigani, Anna’s Kitchen is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with marble floors. The kitchen opened last year, after three years at the Car Club, with the cooking of Vietnamese-born French owner Anna Vellacott becoming a drawcard for public servants.

One of her signature dishes is the beef pho, a slippery noodle soup made of a broth that she boils for 12 to 16 hours, skimming it so thoroughly you can see everything – meat, shallots and bean sprouts – bowl deep.

The Vietnamese herbs flavouring it are taken from her home garden. She also does a highly rated ham sandwich, called a banh mi, with airy bread she makes from scratch, insisting the doughy store-bought baguette simply won’t do.

‘It must be hollow and crusty,’ she says.

Anna's Kitchen Port Moresby

Anna’s Kitchen
owner and chef Anna
Vellacott. Credit: Leilani Stephen

The baguettes are only available if you order in advance, but Vellacott has plans to bring in two Vietnamese bakers early next year, if COVID-19 allows, to make banh mi a regular menu offering.

I started my visit to the restaurant with goi cuan tom (fresh summer rolls), which were filling but light. They are a perfect appetiser, a fresh and crunchy wrap of prawns, lettuce, cucumber, grated carrot and rice vermicelli, with minty, lemongrass tones. They were served with the restaurant’s in-house peanut sauce.

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Next, I dipped into the pho, a Vietnamese soup dish that is popular around the world. Vellacott suggested I dip the beef in the broth into hoisin sauce for extra oomph. You can also add basil, chilli or lemon for more punch.

Dessert was a sticky date pudding with a warm butterscotch sauce, with a side of cream. It’s fluffy, not too sweet, and cupcake sized. You can request ice-cream or Italian gelato as an accompaniment for something richer. There are also French pastries, such as chocolate éclairs and salted caramel banana tarts. In the pipeline is a Vietnamese three-colour drink made from kidney beans, sweetened mung beans and green jelly, topped with coconut cream and shaved ice.

Anna’s Kitchen at a glance

Tel. 7068 1766
Social Anna’s Kitchen
Open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm; Saturday 11am to 8pm.
Style Vietnamese cuisine and French pastries, but also burgers and
Go-to dishes Summer or spring rolls, grilled pork noodle bowl and shaking beef.
Prices Appetisers K20–60, dinner mains K28–50, on-the-grill meals K48-80, desserts K6–25, kids’ meals K16–20

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