Gracing the corner of Fort Street and Gore Street is a hip new kid on the block. Planted in a sweet little inner city spot that provides pedestrian-friendly, side street, Vietnamese dining is Indochine Kitchen. Frankly, when I looked up its location, I was a little bit suspicious – however, I was pleasantly surprised at its artistic interior. Riding on the trend of having giant indoor murals of sensual Vietnamese women, Indochine Kitchen nailed the ambience of the super-cool Asian-fusion eatery that inhabits Melbourne laneways and gentrified New York eateries that are so-happening-right-now. The exposed light bulbs with the tangled fairy lights and brick walls are no-fail signs that this tapas bar is where all the artsy peeps will be hanging.
Tapas time – sharing is caring and it’s also convenient to try out too many things on the menu without appearing gluttonous. Dining with my significant other, I chose 4 plates for two people – you won’t be holding your food baby struggling to breathe but I’d say it’s a good amount for a summer dinner. We had the Nem rán; crispy fried spring rolls with prawn, pork, vermicelli and vegetables ($9); Bún chả ; charcoal BBQ pork belly and pork mince served on a bed of noodles and fresh Vietnamese herbs ($16); Phở Bò; Hanoi-style noodle soup with sirloin steak ($15); Bò cuốn lá cải; charcoal BBQ beef sirloin steak rolls with pineapple, fresh herbs and Vietnamese greens ($16). Tender meats with beautiful flavours, the dishes were healthy and nourishing with that hint of home-made love.
I can’t pass up a cocktail when an adventurous menu is laid before my eyes. The obvious choice was the Café da Martini made with Vietnamese coffee, vodka and Kahlua ($16) – perfectly bittersweet with a much-required strong kick for that post-work relaxing energizer. The Uncle Ho was a twist to the classic Pina Colada with white rum, coconut milk, lychee, pineapple, ginger infused syrup and kaffir lime ($13).
Indochine Kitchen is an ideal spot for a casual-yet-artsy night-time date and also a great place to Instagram some highly curated food porn posts during the day. Funky, happening, salubrious and photogenic, Indochine ticks all the right boxes whilst being light on the wallet – it’s definitely a good dining decision that will make you feel “in” yet “niche” with the really cool kids on the block.