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Make time to visit your Smith Street Phamily.
Phamily Kitchen has been chuffing along for a little while now, but it hasn't lost any of its just-open charm. I'd all but forgotten about it since it exploded into north-of-Johnston Fitzroy with a fresh paint of bright blue at the start of the year, but after seeing a girl toting one of the Vietnamese kitchen's canvas tote bags in the Smith Street Woolworths, I was given a gentle, welcome nudge to head up with street and revisit. And they say you shouldn't go grocery shopping when hungry.
The all-blue interior — the walls, the tables, the tiling and the chairs are all blue — still stands, although admittedly, it looks better during daylight hours than after dark. The staff greet you on arrival and continue to be attentive from the first spring roll through to the last dregs of your pho. The pale pink chopsticks are so cute I want to eat them. And even though it has a designer fit-out and professional branding, it still has an air of legitimacy about it; it may seem a world away from Victoria Street, but that doesn't mean it isn't any good.
Said legitimacy comes from the food, and the staples are done well. The bun (vermicelli bowls) come with chicken, beef, tofu or a roast pork belly, the fat rice paper rolls come in sets of three, and the thit kho (caramelised pork with a braised egg on rice) is one of the best you'll find this side of town (all $10-14). They do a good bahn mi at lunchtime too, but it's sort of pricey at $8-10 when you could just go to N. Lee down the road.
Perhaps more interesting though are the things you can't get on Vic Street — the things that have been altered for the inner city dietary requirement-requiring palate. Spring rolls have been altered to somehow taste just as delicious gluten free (veg $10 or pork $12 for three), and the grilled eggplant with tofu, shisho, peanuts and rice ($14) looks like the best vegan thing I've seen on any Vietnamese menu. Even the Vietnamese cold drip filter coffee can be made vegan with coconut milk ($4).
If you're into undisclosed, gelatinous liquid-like substances, the nondescript 'three colour drink' ($5) might be a good way to finish up. Either that, or spend your last five bucks on a tote bag on the way out. That way, you'll be sure to remember to visit your Phamily more often.
367 Smith Street
T (03) 9417 2233
356 Smith Street
T (03) 9416 0162
390 Smith Street
T (03) 9417 4755
25 Easey Street
T (03) 9029 8484
40 Sackville Street
T 0417 324 363
31 Sackville Street
Level 3, 263 Little Bourke Street
T +61 3 9654 0805
56 Little Bourke Street
T (03) 9654 6627
67 Beach Street
T (03) 9041 3211
15 Collins Street
T (03) 9654 0829
11-15 Liverpool Street
T (03) 9078 2285
307 Brunswick Street
T (03) 9486 0066
Friday, January 11 - Thursday, February 28
@ The Fitzroy Beer Garden
Saturday, September 22 - Sunday, March 3
@ Melbourne Museum
Wednesday, January 16 - Sunday, November 3
@ Princess Theatre
Friday, February 8 - Friday, May 31
@ Imperial Hotel
Wednesday, December 26 - Wednesday, February 27
@ Various cinemas in Melbourne
Thursday, January 31 - Wednesday, March 27
@ Various cinemas in Melbourne