Friday, January 22, 2010

Co Dȏ, Melbourne

Victoria Street in Richmond is also known to some as 'Little Saigon'.  Having arrived there by the 109 tram from the city, I can understand why.  There is Vietnamese restaurant after Vietnames restaurants, Vietnamese groceries, Vietnamese butchers, even Vietnamese DVD stores. 

It really did feel like mini Asia in the middle of this city fringe suburb.  I was delighted to have discovered it and now know where to do my Asian food shopping which sell items cheaper than those in the CBD. 

Anyhow, back to lunch, my friend and I had decided to visit a place called 'Co Dȏ'.  This was chosen after having read a few online reviews, so seeing as we are foodie companions who are willing to try most things, we agreed to give this place a go.

Walking in, the air-conditioned restaurant was a welcome respite from the hot humid oven-like air outside.

The place is pleasantly decorated with laminate flooring, clean walls and unobtrusive lighting.

Each table is set with a tray of condiments - chilli sauce, soy sauce, fresh chilli, hoisin sauce and so on.  There are also plenty of eating utensils - chopsticks, spoons, sauce bowls and a box of tissues.

A waiter came along with a flask of tea with two cups and a couple of menus.  The tea had a lovely subtle sweetness to it. 

The menu is vast and seeing as everyone else had a bowl of noodles, we had to try the beef phở .  We decided to start with some prawn spring rolls ($7.50), beef phở  noodles ($8.00) and a dish that my friend had to have - sweet and sour chicken ($12).  Not my first choice, but it was requested with such enthusiasm - who am I to refuse a fellow foodie their choice of food?!

In pure Vietnamese tradition, a plate of fresh crisp iceberg lettuce, beansprouts and Vietnamese coriander accompanied by a bowl sweet dip was brought to our table. 

Our prawn spring rolls arrived soon after.  There were eight in total, but I forgot to take a photo before greedily digging in.  They were very non-greasy and cigar-thin like in shape, unlike traditional Chinese ones.  Wrapping them in the lettuce leaves and dipping into the sauce was oh, sooo good.

Next came the beef phở noodles.  It was made up of an aromatic soup, vermicelli rice noodles and ultra fine, paper thin slices of rare beef (which cook as they sit in the hot soup), chopped coriander, green and red onions.  The soup was absolutely gorgeous.  The beef was super tender and the noodles deliciously, well delicious! 

The sweet and sour chicken was a little yellow.  I think the batter had turmeric in it.  It was only just mediocre, I ate it out of politeness to my dining companion more than anything.  But then, I really am not a huge fan of sweet and sour.  It seems that so many non-Asians seem to love sweet and sour anything...

I really wouldn't order this again as I prefer to stick to more traditional Vietnamese dishes. 

Service here is pretty quick and the portions are generous.  I am intrigued to come back to try some more traditional dishes.  However, seeing as there are so many Vietnamese restaurants located all along this particular strip of Victoria street, I think I will have to pop into some others next time. 

Nevertheless, 'Co Dȏ' was super busy full of locals, bringing their families for a midweek lunch - always a good sign in my book.  If you want to sample Vietnamese and have a browse in some Asian groceries to stock up on your pantry, drop by 'Co Dȏ' and give it a whirl.  Just stay clear of the sweet and sour chicken.

Co Dȏ
196 Victoria Street, Richmond, VIC 3121
Tel: +61 (0)3 9421 2418

Daily: 9am-10:30pm

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