If you’re around East St Kilda, you’ll notice people walking down Carlisle Street drinking fresh coconuts. They’ve probably been to Mopho Canteen, a Vietnamese diner near Balaclava station.
It’s situated in a tight industrial space, made the most of by a clean, low-fuss design. The savvy layout ensures each phó-slurper comfortably packs in around large communal tables and bench seats – leaving enough space for locals to duck in out for their quick phó fix.
The food is central-style Vietnamese-inspired (sweet and meaty). It’s a different sort of authentic to what you’ll find in the family-run places on Victoria Street, but no less tasty. Head chef Adam Davies (Mr Wolf, Melbourne Wine Room) has created an affordable menu around a modern Vietnamese experience: which for Melbourne diners involves tasty and fresh traditional food in a contemporary and creative space. There are large and crispy pork spring rolls and glazed chargrilled chicken hearts. Salad choices include soft-shell crab or a seared-tuna option with green papaya and “crispy bits”.
Come summertime, Mopho Canteen also makes a blood orange Pina Colada, perfect for sipping at the curbside tables. The drinks menu is small: with a selection of Australian whites, rosés and reds, a handful of beers (including VB) – and of course, coconuts.