Nick La reckons we’re doing pho all backwards: “We really want to encourage people to eat pho in the morning, because that’s what I do!”
As a corrective, La now offers Asian-style breakfasts at his modern-Vietnamese diner, The Brass Coq. Anyone who has eaten in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh will recognise the rare-beef pho, made from a chicken broth stewed over 48 hours, and The Brass Coq’s sunny-eggs and steak served with house-made pate, soy and fresh chilli.
Other items are markedly less traditional. Drawing from a recent residency at Noma, chef Khoo Kah Kin draws on contemporary cooking techniques and forages widely for local items such as Neptune’s Pearls (a kind of seaweed) and pine leaves. To La, this approach is consistent with Vietnamese cooking in spirit, if not letter. “There’s no such thing as ‘authentic’ Vietnamese food – it is fusion,” he says. “There are Chinese, a lot of Laos, French and Cambodian influences.”
To that end, you’ll see a pearl-barley congee served with a poached egg and pork belly; scrambled eggs with saltbush and tofu; and waffles dressed in sesame-banana butter and barberry jam. Syrupy Vietnamese coffee comes in hot or cold varieties – it wouldn’t be a Vietnamese breakfast without it.
The Brass Coq
470 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9640 0035
Mon to Wed 7am–3pm