Melbourne chef Tracey Lister has lived, loved and learned Vietnamese cuisine for more than a decade, writing cook books and running hands-on classes in traditional street food at her cooking school in Hanoi.
Widely acknowledged as one of Vietnam’s cooking experts, Tracey is passionate about finding and celebrating the best places to shop, cook and eat. And now Tracey is giving Melbourne a taste of her Vietnamese cooking knowledge, teaching classes and leading culinary tours of Vietnam.
So where does Hanoi’s most famous Aussie chef find a taste of Vietnam in Melbourne? These are Tracey’s top five…
- 37 Hitchcock Ave, Barwon Heads, (03) 4202 0525
- Hanoi Kitchen in the coastal town of Barwon Heads does some of the best Hanoi food I’ve had south of the Mekong Delta. The chef/owner Hong Lee trained at Hoa Sua, one of Hanoi’s oldest culinary colleges, before migrating to Australia. And how lucky for those prepared to take the hour drive from Melbourne. Hanoi Kitchen serves modern interpretations of Vietnamese cuisine like Balmain Bugs with a chilli sauce or a creamy lemongrass panna cotta, but I find it hard to go past the classics like pho ga or bo – a clear, full-flavoured chicken or beef broth with rice noodles and herbs.
- 56 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 03) 9654 6627
- Any day is a good day to dine at Annam, but during winter I love to go on Mondays for Jerry Mai’s hotpot. You have three different broths to choose from, but my favourite is the aromatic beef, lemongrass and chilli. From a card you tick off what you would like to add to it: crowd favourites like Wagu beef, prawns, calamari or tofu, but also more traditional ingredients like chicken hearts, tripe and liver. As an added bonus you can wash it all down with a Hanoi beer.
- Temples and Markets is an online store selling beautiful lacquerware, bamboo bowls, cushions and other ethically sourced products from Future Traditions, which produces clothing, bags and shrugs in contemporary designs using textiles sourced from remote mountain villages. They also make stunning jewellery using ceramics and glass washed up on the Vietnamese shipwreck coast and set into a modern silver designs.
- Warehouse 1/347 Bay Rd, Cheltenham, 03 9553 4846
- Take part in a Vietnamese cooking class at Relish Mama with Quyen Lyon and learn all about street food dishes like prawns on sugar cane or a sweet soup of lady finger bananas, coconut and sago. Quyen regularly updates her classes with exciting new dishes, particularly after a visit to her home country.
- My favourite fish sauce is from the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, made from small black mackerels fished locally. I buy Phu Quoc from the AsiaMart at 162-164 Victoria St in Richmond (and while you’re there, stock up on all your herbs for the bargain price of $1 a bunch). Good fish sauce should be a deep amber colour and clear of sediment. Look for Mam Nghi on the label (which means first extraction).