MELBOURNE | Some say that you can judge whether or not a Vietnamese restaurant is legit depending on whether or not it has numbers in its name. These numbers can relate to things like the address, the location number if there’s a few locations, or an important date in the owner’s life.
An Vietnamese café in Melbourne’s CBD, Vietboy1996, has four numbers in its name, so using the aforementioned logic, I had hopes that it would be good when I visited to get some photos for What’s On Melbourne.
Vietboy1996 (owner’s birth-year, perhaps?) is housed inside an old bluestone building. There’s not much advertising the fact that it’s there until you walk inside, and you could easily walk straight by without noticing it.
On the menu, you’ll find classic Vietnamese dishes with a twist. The signature thit heo nuong xa bánh mì, for example, takes the traditional lemongrass marinated grilled pork belly and adds coffee grounds to the marinade for a unique flavour. Their riff on cơm tấm, meanwhile, sees turmeric rice topped with chicken pâté, served with nem nướng (grilled pork sausage), fresh and pickled veg, two fried eggs, and a house sriracha.
There’s several phở options available, influenced by the minimally garnished pho that’s typical in Hanoi. The beef pastrami version is a good option, a flavoursome chicken-based broth filled with grilled beef, beef pastrami, noodles, and spring onions.
To drink, there’s European-style and Vietnamese-style coffee, along with a few sodas and juices.
If you’re looking for traditional Vietnamese food, Vietboy1996 isn’t the place to visit. If you’re after something a bit different, however, that’s tasty and well-priced given the CBD locale, Vietboy1996 is worth checking out.
585 Little Collins Street
Mon – Fri: 9:00am to 3:00pm