In 2013 Rene Spence and Dai Duong opened modern-Vietnamese restaurant Uncle on Carlisle Street, St Kilda.
The pair is now opening a second Uncle – this one at the Paris end of Collins Street.
Three years in, the original St Kilda restaurant is going strong and the team is keen to reach a broader audience.
The new location won’t deviate too much from what the original Uncle offers. Spence says, “Expectations are probably a little bit higher. We’re up against some stiff competition in the city. The stemware and cutlery will be a little nicer.”
He adds: “But there will still be no pretentiousness. From the outset we never wanted to be a fine-dining venue. We wanted people to come in and have a bloody awesome time.”
Chef Duong, who was born in Vietnam and moved to Australia when he was young, has sourced two 10-litre barrels from a cooper in South Australia and is currently aging fish sauce in them.
Spence says, “None of us knows quite how it’s [the fish sauce] going to turn out, but just like a barrel-aged whisky or wine, we expect there to be more depth of flavour, more complexity and perhaps for it to be more rounded.”
It may end up as an ingredient in one of Uncle’s cocktails – the See You Bye at Uncle St Kilda has a dash of fish sauce in the Tromba Blanco tequila, lime and coriander-based drink.
Adèle Winteridge, director of Foolscap Studio, is designing the restaurant space, which has been converted from offices.
Uncle Collins Street will seat around 100 people and will open mid–late November at Level 1, 15 Collins Street, Melbourne.