If you live in Melbourne, then you’re thankfully spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out, particularly if it’s Vietnamese food you’re after.
Delicious bánh mì and phở are all around, but there is one problem with the sheer number of Vietnamese eateries in the city – it can be a bit of a job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
That’s where this article comes in. We’ve taken the trouble of doing exactly that for you, and the result is the list you see here – only the best Vietnamese restaurants Melbourne has to offer.
This is one of the most cutting-edge Asian fusion restaurants in Melbourne, and they owe a lot to the influence of Vietnamese cuisine in particular.
You can see and taste it in their Hanoi style whole market fish (one of the most exquisite dishes on their menu), their rice paper rolls, and their Vietnamese iced coffee.
Admittedly, this is not the place to come if you’re looking for a cheap bowl of good pho like you’d get in a Hanoi backstreet. While that’s a wonderful thing, it’s not what this place is about.
This place is about mixing things up, drawing influences from across the continent, and reimagining them in a sleek, sophisticated modern style.
It has to be said that few places manage this as well as Hochi Mama, where the Vietnamese mixes effortlessly with Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and other influences to make flavour combinations you won’t forget in a hurry.
They have two locations in the city (one in the CBD and one in Richmond. They’re also open for takeaway, in case you can’t make it to either spot but still want your sticky beef ribs and octopus salad.
We can’t say we’d blame you. With good vegetarian/options as well and a great range of original cocktails to boot, there’s a reason this place is so well-loved in Melbourne.
This place is also in the CBD and is a little bit more focused on serving up authentic Vietnamese cuisine while definitely having a playful, fusion side as well.
Things included on the menu are bo luc lac (stir-fried Vietnamese beef, a Saigon favourite), ca tai chanh (a Vietnamese style of sushi), and a dish called “Tradional-ish Viet Salad”.
The decor has a cool, noir vibe to it, with low lights and neon signs the order of the day.
There is also a set tasting menu for groups of 6 or more, with dishes that change regularly. Their cocktails also deserve a mention; they’re all great, but Rising Sun and Fresh Off The Boat go down particularly nicely.
Geddit? Rice Paper Scissors? This is another restaurant with two locations, one in the CBD and another in the Brunswick Street shopping district in Fitzroy. It’s also another one with a definite foot in the fusion camp but which still cares about authenticity in their cooking.
For something that’s almost certainly never been seen in Vietnam before but is delicious nonetheless, try the grilled kangaroo salad. For something a little more authentic, the duck banh mi is excellent too.
While most restaurants will offer a few options for vegetarians and vegans, it’s great to see this one going the extra mile by offering a whole separate vegan menu, most of which is also gluten-free.
Anyone will be able to find something they fancy here.
Located in Port Melbourne, the goal of this restaurant is to give customers an overview of the cuisine of Vietnam from North to South with a touch of luxury to it.
Take their pho, for example, which uses fine wagyu beef for an amazing flavour and texture.
The Mekong red curry is a wonderful vegetarian dish while seafood lovers are also catered for with soft shell crab, salmon, kingfish, snapper, and more gracing the menu.
Their desserts also deserve a mention. Plenty of Asian restaurants in Western countries offer only Western style desserts. These are available here (ice cream, peanut butter parfait), but there is also a delightful selection of options with more Southeast Asian flavours, like the lemongrass meringue and coconut sago.
Banoi means “grandmother” in Vietnamese, and this restaurant is a culinary tribute to the owners’ grandmother.
There are two locations, one in the CBD and one in the Docklands.
This is a fun place to come and eat with friends, with many of the dishes being good for mixing and sharing, from the spring rolls and rice paper rolls to the “Banoi taco buns” (bao buns) with various fillings.
There are also noodle soups, rice dishes, vermicelli, along with salads and a few other specialities.
The Hoi An noodles are a particular highlight, but really the menu makes it difficult to pick one thing for fear of missing out on the others.
Whatever you order, it will be great washed down with a kumquat lemonade from their drinks menu. Oh, and on Fridays, there’s an extra selection of dishes with crispy pork including rice, noodles, noodle soup, and more.
There’s a sign in this restaurant claiming that Bill Clinton ate there and liked it so much that he had two bowls of pho. Pho Bo Ga Mekong is a bit of a departure from the other restaurants we’ve seen so far on this list.
While they were, to varying degrees, selling a modern, fusion style of Vietnamese cuisine, this place is very much sticking to authentic Vietnamese traditions. It’s the kind of place where Vietnamese people themselves go to eat.
If you go, you’ll notice that it only seems to have become more popular since Clinton’s visit. Even if you arrive in the late afternoon, well after the lunch rush, the place will probably be busy.
As you might have guessed from the name, pho is the speciality here, and their beef pho is their signature dish. It’s delicious, full of flavour, and includes not just beef but also tendon, tripe, and bone marrow.
You might not be used to eating those things, but you really should give this dish a try – not only is it authentic, but we promise you’ve never had pho like it before. You can find Pho Bo Ga Mekong in the CBD.
The people who run this place love Vietnamese cuisine, and it shows in the way they run their restaurant. They have two separate menus for lunch and dinner – for instance, the banh mi are only available at lunchtime.
Those banh mi are wonderful by the way, and you can choose fillings from crispy fried tofu to char siu pork to soft shelled crab and much else besides. That’s far from all, though – both menus are quite extensive, and are likely to tempt you into repeat visits.
You might get the coconut chicken curry on one dinner visit and just have to come back for the shaken beef next time. We also have to talk about the lobster tail XO sauce noodles.
This is the most expensive thing on the menu, but we can confirm that it’s worth every last cent.
There are also some great Vietnamese cocktails available in jugs, which is the icing on the cake if you’re dining with a group of friends.
If you were able to deduce that this is a wine bar as well as a restaurant, then well done you!
The food here is not all traditional Vietnamese but also includes some French-Vietnamese fare, like duck a l’orange, flavoured with an orange reduction but also chilli and spring onion.
There are also plenty of more Vietnamese options and the pork and lemongrass is simple and delicious.
The wine list is quite extensive, though there are a lot more available by the bottle than by the glass, including a few superb burgundies.
If you’re not too into wine, there’s also a wide range of other spirits and non-alcoholic drinks to suit your tastes.
This place is something of a surprise because it’s a restaurant in a casino. Usually, these restaurants are nothing to write home about – gamblers just want something to fill up on before they get back to the tables – but Tia To is a cut above the ordinary.
From the lemongrass chilli prawns to the Viet tossed beef, the food here is top-notch.
If you want to try a selection of different things, the Vietnamese platter is a great idea, giving you a mixture of 5 different dishes including sugarcane prawns and marinated beef wrapped in betel leaves.
It’s up to you whether you want to try your luck at the card tables, but either way, this restaurant is definitely worth your time.
If you’ve finished this list and aren’t hungry for some Vietnamese food, then we don’t know what to say.
Whether you’re looking for authenticity or fusion, there’s a place for you in this list. We wouldn’t blame you for wanting to try them all, and in fact we’d encourage you. Eat well!