House of Hoi An
In the small town of Hoi An, Vietnam, Trinh Diem Vy (or Ms Vy as she’s better known) is restaurant royalty. She employs more than 350 townspeople across her four restaurants; and runs a cooking school tourists flock to. When she told her hospitality peers she was opening in Melbourne they told her she was mad; that there was too much competition.
Luckily for Melbourne, Ms Vy didn’t listen. At the entrance to her two-storey restaurant, a bicycle and the immediate smell of fresh Vietnamese greet you. Inside, there are 55 seats surrounded by lanterns, in a nod to her hometown’s signature decor. Most of this stuff was shipped over from Vietnam, where she still spends four months of every year.
The food offering is smaller than at the overseas sister restaurants. Here, it’s just Ms Vy’s most popular dishes. You can’t order a bowl of pho; that would be too selfish. Instead, sit down with friends and roll your own barbeque-pork rice-paper rolls, or pick at crispy fried wontons topped with crabmeat salsa, before moving onto more substantial dishes such as a whole fried fish topped with morning glory and green papaya salad.
The drinks list is basic but sits well with the food and the colourful, chaotic surrounds. Crisp sauv blanc, riesling and pinot grigio all come by the glass or bottle, alongside malbec, shiraz and pinot noir. Tiger and Saigon Export are the pick of the four lagers on offer.