MELBOURNE | Cô Thăm Cần Thơ is one of those local gems that you never read about in the big media publications. No website, and no social media presence. Located on Nicholson Street, Footscray, the small family-run restaurant is all about a variety of delicious Vietnamese dishes at affordable prices.
Walk in an find yourself a table, and browse the menu which is displayed largely on the left and right walls of the restaurant. It doesn’t take long for one of the staff members to pop over to your table and take your order.
The menu features 34 dishes and is split into several sections – entrees, phở, bun miến, bánh canh, com dia, chào, and beverages. Looking around at what other diners are ordering, and it’s clear that the rice based dishes and noodle soups are the most popular items.
I opted for two of the rice dishes – cơm tấm đặc biệt, and chào cả. Cơm tấm đặc biệt is a delicious dish that I first tried in Ho Chi Minh city several years ago. It consists of fine grains of “broken” rice, grilled pork chop, thin strands of pork and cooked pork skin seasoned with roast rice powder, Vietnamese-style steamed pork meatloaf, lightly fried chopped spring onions, mixed vegetables, a fried egg, and nước mắm pha fish sauce on the side for dipping. The version at Cô Thăm Cần Thơ is fragrant, balanced, and delicious.
Chào cả is sliced fish congee. A tasty, hearty soup, with a silky broth and generous amounts of rice and fish.
To drink, it’s kumquat juice, Vietnamese lemon soda, Vietnamese coffee, and soft drinks. For dessert, there’s a few different flavours of Vietnamese honeycomb cake aka bánh bò nuôn. It’s somewhat akin to a spongy, sweet bread-like cake. I opted for the ubiquitous pandan flavour, and the banana one, which another customer told me was the best one that they do. Both are top notch, served with a coconut sauce and sesame topping.
Cô Thăm Cần Thơ
70 Nicholson Street
Telephone: (03) 9193 8805
Sun – Sat: 8:00am to 8:00pm