Traditional Vietnamese with a youthful flair and emphasis on sustainable eating.
An Uong, which literally translates to ‘eat, drink’ in English, is the brain child of Richard Nguyen, Zico Lu and Le Nhat – three Melbournian mates whose families hail from different regions of Vietnam. The trio have brought together their respective backgrounds to create a dining triple threat in Richmond’s bubbling Bridge Road precinct.
Despite a plethora of Vietnamese dining options just a stone’s throw away on Victoria Street, the group thought there was a gap in the market for what they considered Vietnamese cooking done right. They set out to combine out-of-the-box, contemporary cooking with a casual share-food setting evocative of the Vietnamese they grew up with.
The result is a relaxed venue, popping with splashes of greenery and a dynamic menu from European-trained Head Chef Zico (formerly of Grossi Florentino and Sydney’s Quay). Diners can choose to sit inside by the open kitchen and watch the Japanese Konro grill in action or, in true Vietnamese style, opt for street-side and soak up the Bridge Road foot traffic.
With a mix of three to four rotating specials every week, Zico focuses on sustainable food with a view to minimise wastage. For instance the grilled kingfish – which is dry cured and served with nuoc cham, lime and herbs – uses only part of the fish. Afterwards, the carcass is boiled and utilised as the master stock in soup bases and in the steamed fish main.
Elsewhere the menu is peppered with creative interpretations of traditional favourites. Highlights include caramelised pork belly; the Bo La Lot – beef mince wrapped in betel leaf and barbequed on the Konro, and An Uong’s take on Vietnamese turmeric fish, featuring squid stuffed with the restaurant’s home-grown herbs.
The drinks list is diverse, offering some familiar favourites with a distinctly regional accent. The Espresso Martini for instance takes Vietnamese coffee as its base, utilising coffee beans sourced and roasted in Vietnam and blended on-site in the restaurant. Beers include Bia Hanoi and Saigon Premium.
While Victoria Street might be offering cheap Vietnamese that wouldn’t feel out of place on a street corner in Hanoi, An Uong offers traditional food served with a side of youthful flair thanks to Richard, Zico and Le. If you’re sick of wait times in Windsor or Swan Street, take a wander and check out this place instead.