There is something decidedly understated about the north-east corner of the CBD. Or, more specifically, Exhibition Street. It lacks a certain defining quality that so many other streets rely on — the quaintness of laneways, the classiness of Collins Street and the hustle and bustle of Swanston Street. But look a little harder and some of the best and reasonably priced food can be found tucked away on the edge of the city, at none other than misschu.
Started by Miss Nahji Chu herself in Sydney, the tuckshop-style venues are set to open in three more Australian states (as well as London) later this year but, being the lucky Melburnians that we are, the self-proclaimed 'Queen of Rice Paper Rolls' has been fulfilling all of our Vietnamese cravings since 2011.
Don't expect to linger around here all day and night, even if the smooth, electronic music is begging you to stay a little longer in the dimly lit setting. Not only is the demand high and clear from the abundance of people squeezing themselves onto stools at low benches, but the menu explicitly dictates that 'you may need to move on to make way for those who are hungrier and thirstier than you'. That's an order. That being said, the service is perfectly affable and the waitstaff are often up for a chat.
But why eat in when everything on the menu can just as easily be taken away? Or better yet, delivered to you on an electric bicycle (for a small fee). Hello, free range egg omelet, avocado and balsamic caramelised onion rice paper rolls ($7.50 for 2) delivered straight to the office in a cute little paper bag. Feel like a satay chicken Vietnamese warm vermicelli salad ($15) but don't possess the ingredients or the skills? No problem. What about vegetables wrapped in a crispy vermicelli pastry net disguised as deep fried spring rolls ($6 for 4) that aren't actually as naughty – but are just as crunchy and delectable – as they sound? You got it.
Steamed dumplings, buns, curries, soups and traditional desserts freshly made with typically Vietnamese components like prawn, Shanghai pork, chilli, lemongrass, Asian greens, mango and papaya are all features on the menu styled as an order form.
misschu taps into the market of hungry people searching for high-end cooking with a fast-food price tag. It offers variety and provides a substantial feed without leaving you out of pocket and, instead, with a happy tummy. So the next time you're at the top end of Exhibition Street, place an order to go.
misschu is also located at 276 Toorak Road, South Yarra, (03) 9041 5848, open daily 11am - 11pm.