Cafe O-Mai is a meeting of east and west, but owner Margaret Nguyen – whose family emigrated from Vietnam in the 1980s – doesn’t want you to call it “fusion”.Instead, she aims to master both sides of the equation, serving steaming bowls of pho and yoghurt-topped granola with equal gusto.
Matriarch of the kitchen, Mummy Kim’s cafe-style breakfasts are the standout – especially clay pot eggs with lemongrass pork sausage, and the brioche French toast with rhubarb.
Pho is the house specialty, with fragrant broth brewed for 48 hours before noodles, delicate slices of beef or chicken and fistfuls of fresh herbs are submerged at the last minute. This is also the home of pho chay, a true vegetarian pho, made with a complex veggie stock and tofu.
Torn baguettes are slathered with pate and mayo for breakfast bahn mi – try the meatballs with quail egg or crackling Byron Bay Pork. Lunch focuses exclusively on Vietnamese flavours with an assortment of vermicelli dishes, green papaya salads and traditional curries.
If you’re wondering what the silver contraptions are, they’re filters used to make ca phe da, Vietnamese coffee slow-dripped over condensed milk. Cafe O-Mai’s take on an affogato elevates this colonial classic with the addition of coconut sago and sesame praline.