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FOOD & DRINK

Le Charme Is the New CBD Spot with Salted Caramel Espresso Martinis and $9.90 Lunchtime Pho

And you can get six courses for $30 at dinner.
By Elizabeth Maidment
June 20, 2019
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Le Charme Is the New CBD Spot with Salted Caramel Espresso Martinis and $9.90 Lunchtime Pho

And you can get six courses for $30 at dinner.
By Elizabeth Maidment
June 20, 2019
  shares

Melbourne has no shortage of cheap eats for students, rents weeks and people just generally trying to save a dime. Chinatown's newest opening, however, is combining budget eats with sophistication and fancy surrounds — so you can feel like you're dropping big cash on a nice dinner, when you're actually not.

Located in the heart of the bustling city centre, Le Charme is filled with long teal banquettes and lotus flower-shaped light fittings hanging from the ceiling. Matching teal shutters keep the restaurant's interior sheltered from the frenetic foot traffic happening right outside its doors.

It's inside this seemingly serene — and definitely charming — restaurant that you'll enjoy Executive Chef Gary Lau's extensive and affordable menu. It's filled with lots of pescatarian and vegetarian options, too, so everyone can get in on the action.

Set to be a sure-fire hit with CBD workers, Le Charme's $9.90 lunch menu features generous bowls of beef pho and bun bo hue, while its $11.90 menu is filled with hits like spicy chicken laksa, stir-fried beef with rice and mapo tofu. During lunchtime hours, you can also add a drink — including tea, soft drink and Vietnamese coffee imported directly from Hanoi — to your meal for an extra $2.

Julia Sansone

Head here at night and you'll find an a la carte that pulls its inspiration from across Asia. There's a Hong Kong-style soft shell crab with black beans ($11.90), dumplings ($6.90–7.90) — served steamed or pan-fried — chicken mee goreng ($14.9) and a lineup of popular Vietnamese noodle soups and cold vermicelli dishes.

But for the the best bang for your buck, order the $30 'feed me' menu (for a minimum of two people), which includes a whopping six dishes: four entrees, one main and a dessert. While exactly what you'll get changes regularly, expect the likes of crunchy wasabi prawns, pan-fried chicken and prawn dumplings, chicken san choy bao and a rich Saigon curry with beef brisket, potato and okra. For dessert, you'll get banana fritters and coconut ice-cream. There's a vego option available for meat-free folk, too

The Chinatown diner also has a range of Asian-inspired cocktails and mocktails on offer, with standouts being the opulent salted caramel espresso martini ($19) — made with Kahlua, Baileys and a Nutella rim — and the fruity Royal Rose Fizz ($20). A tidy lineup of beers, ciders and wines are available, too.

While Chinatown's newest offering steers away from the traditional, it will surely be a hit with those looking for a fun, tasty and affordable feed.

Find Le Charme at Shop 3, 178 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. It's open from Tuesday–Friday 11.30am–3pm and 5–10pm; Saturday 11.30am–11pm and Sunday 11.30am–10pm.

Images: Julia Sansone.

Published on June 20, 2019 by Elizabeth Maidment

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