It’s been five years since Hochi Mama, the CBD’s bustling Vietnamese-fusion joint, arrived in Melbourne.

And after some “crazy, crazy times” in 2020, owner Thai Ho says business is slowly creeping back to normal. “We’ve been lucky enough to survive.”

So much so, in the wake of two lockdowns, he’s gearing up to open a second Hochi Mama restaurant – in the former Botherambo site on Swan Street in Richmond – in early December.

“We’ve been looking around Swan Street for a while – we reckon the area’s a good fit,” Ho says. “And this spot is across the road from the Corner Hotel, right near the [train] station, and in the perfect position with footy, cricket and tennis coming back.”

The 125-seater (in normal times) has a converted-warehouse vibe, with exposed brick, concrete floors and overhead beams. “As soon as I saw the site, I knew it could become a Hochi Mama,” says Ho, who’s adding a graffiti wall, neon signs and snug booths.

Out front, there’ll be a open-air “greenhouse” dining area with lush plants, Astroturf and bench seating.

Menu-wise, Ho says “all the dishes we’re known for” are heading to Richmond, including the salmon ceviche with secret sauce, Kewpie mayo and fried shallots; the fried-chicken bao with kimchi and fermented chilli beans; and the aromatic massaman lamb curry.

There’ll also be some new additions, which Ho remains tight-lipped about for now. But a great-value feed is guaranteed. As in the CBD, you’ll be able to get two small dishes, two large dishes and a side for $34.50 a head.

Hochi Mama is opening at 65 Swan Street, Richmond in early December. Join the waitlist here to find out when bookings open.