Tiny was just lunch food that I’d enjoy,” explains Michael Pham considering the difference between has previous restaurant and his new one. “Phamily Kitchen is more food I’d go home to.”

For Pham, that’s bún [rice noodles] with spiced-herb barbecue chicken, fresh lettuce, cucumber and pickles; Vietnamese slaw with battered soft-shell crab; and caramel pork neck with braised egg and rice. “It’s old-school Vietnamese in a new school setting,” he says. “It’s all the classics you’d get on the street and family dishes that I grew up with.”

Classics they may be, but head chef Alex Kaewprapran has used her Thai background to innovate the traditional favourites. Vietnamese-fiends will recognise the classics, including barbecue pork banh mi, beef pho and syrupy ca-phe coffee. There’s also tricked-out versions of the old faithfuls, such as the brisket banh mi, or the tofu, shitake and enoki pho.

The “new-school setting” Pham describes refers to the slick fit-out by Matthew Van Kooy of John Wardle Architects. The entire base of the restaurant is bathed in blue – the walls, the floor, the tables and chairs – while the ceiling fades into a shade of pink Pham calls “Iced VoVo”.

“It very much takes influence from the colour palette of Vietnam, but it features almost South American-style colours as well,” Pham says. “It used to be this creepy bain-marie bar. The site’s come a long way from what it was.”

Phamily Kitchen
374 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9417 2888

Daily 11am–10pm