REVIEW: CO THU QUAN, FOOTSCRAY
Despite growing up with Vietnamese cuisine and a familiarity with several dishes, it turns out there’s actually a world of dishes outside of this bubble. Namely, dishes from Central Vietnam and through to the North, and I’ve discovered some of these dishes not during my travels in Vietnam but rather here in Footscray at Co Thu Quan. Rice paper roll salad, anyone? Yup, that’s actually a dish, and it’s delicious!
During our first visit, I tried Hue style clay pot rice which comes with an assortment of this and that including crispy shrimps and baby crab, pickles, omelette and the rice topped with an incredibly aromatic mincy pork stew. A choose your own adventure if you like when it comes to what to eat, in what combinations and order… all with delicious outcomes! The hubby opted for the Hoi An chicken rice, which lands in the same ball park as Hainanese chicken rice but with some punchier and fresh differences liked the addition of pickled carrots and Daikon and Vietnamese mint.
In the spirit of trying new things and not gravitating towards the super delicious but familiar Hue style clay pot rice, I tried the savoury sticky rice during visit two. Between the rice, pork floss and Chinese sausage, there was actually quite a bit of sweetness on the plate, which skewed the balance of flavours. Some of my disappointment also stemmed from the fact that I was anticipating a flavour profile similar to that of Lo Mai Gai (Chinese steamed glutinous rice) but the two are really quite different when it comes to taste and texture.
Ah well, I guess you can’t win them all. Despite the second visit paling significantly compared to what we ordered during the first one, I will be visiting Co Thu Quan again. There are plenty more adventurous and novel (at least to me) dishes to try, perhaps with an order of the claypot rice on the side next time.
Banh trang bo (rice paper salad-y dish) - with Vietnamese pork pemmican, crispy fried shallot and butter mayonnaise in a special shrimp flavoured rice paper wrapper.
Hoi An chicken rice - topped with shredded free range chicken, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber and Vietnamese mint, served with a sweet ginger sauce.
Hue style clay pot rice - clay pot rice topped with pork stew in shrimp sauce, served with marinated fresh-water baby crabs, pot simmered shrimps with pork belly, pickled greens mustard cabbage and pickled unripe garden eggs.
Spicy rice paper salad - shrimp-flavoured rice paper mixed with Vietnamese chilli-satay, beef jerky, dried shredded squid, dried shrimp, cooked quail egg, crispy fried shallot, spicy salted shrimp and Vietnamese style grilled spring onion.
Water spinach crab noodles (Canh bun) - house made soup from chicken broth and freshwater crab paste, thick rice noodles, pork and crab meatball, Vietnamese pork sausage, fried tofu, tomato, water spinach, cube of congealed pork blood, crispy fried shallot and spring onions, served with tamarind sauce and shrimp paste.
Savoury sticky rice - with Chinese sausage, pate, pork floss, cha lua (Vietnamese ham) and scallion oil.
Co Thu Quan
10 Droop St,
Footscray, Victoria, 3011.
+61 3 9689 1451