Vi’em Cafe

Londoners (myself included) love to extoll the virtues of the Vietnamese restaurants in Kingsland road. However, the delights of Kingsland road pale in comparison when compared with the wall to wall Vietnamese restaurants that line Victoria street in Melbourne, Australia. Having travelled in Vietnam I can honestly say that the Vietnamese food you can get on Victoria street is just as good as the food I ate there, albeit more expensive. That’s not to say Victoria street is expensive, it is one of the cheapest places in Melbourne to eat particularly given that every restaurant is BYO.
Some Melburnians like going back to a tried and true favourite on Victoria street time and time again however I prefer to have a go at one of the restaurants I have never tried before (there are so many Vietnamese restaurants on Victoria street that it would take serious cash, time and appetite to make it to them all – although a journalist from The Age did attempt this feat). So I was delighted when my friend Jo said that she had found a new favourite that had opened in the time I had been in London, Vi’em.
Rare beef salad

The great thing about Vi’em is that it looks pretty similar to the restaurants in Vietnam. It has got a big outdoor seating area under a verandah, a TV blaring, a shrine and even a water feature. Jamie Durie eat your heart out. It’s certainly not stylish but the authenticity of the decor gave me hope about the authenticity of the food. Service is smiles all round and we are quickly provided with water and a thermos full of tea to sip at while we select from the laminated menu. If we wanted to bring our own wine or beer a corkage charge of $4.50 was required. We decide to share the rare beef salad ($18.50) a monster of a serving size bursting at the seams with tender pink slivers of beef, hot red chillis, lashings of coriander and heaps of bean sprouts. The interplay between the different flavours makes this dish real party-in-the-mouth territory.

Stuffed squid
We also share the stuffed squid ($12.50) which is tightly packed with a mixture of minced prawns and pork and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Unfortunately the squid itself has been overcooked and so has taken on a hard rubbery texture. Still, I would go back to Vi’em on the strength of the rare beef salad and the smiling waiting staff alone. Given the bustle of the Vietnamese supermarkets, the myriad of restaurants and the community feel of the road visitors to Melbourne can’t go to too far wrong simply by turning up to Victoria street and randomly picking whichever restaurant they turn too first.
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Details: 345 Victoria Street, Richmond, Australia 3121 (Ph +61 3 9421 5227)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of the nearby cafe Three Bags Full in Abbostford. For Londoners looking to replicate the Victoria street experience your best bet is Kingsland road – try Viet Grill.

Vi'em Cafe Authentic Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Despite having just enjoyed a quick lunch yesterday at Song Que on Kingsland Road, I can imagine how much better the Vietnamese food scene would be in Melbourne, which probably has more in common with Orange County, California (where there’s an enormous Vietnamese community).

    Your food at Vi’em Cafe looks outrageously fresh and beautiful.

  2. Spooky, I was chatting with my Aussie mate last night about how much better Vietnamese food was down under. Come to think Chinese and Thai tends to be better in Oz too.

  3. Great place – highly recommend the beef rice paper rolls and cinnamon chicken too.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  4. American in London – Yes it is all about the size of the Vietnamese community – works both ways though – Indian and African food is so much better in London than in Melbourne.

    Mr Noodles – Again all about the immigrant population (Greek food is also great in Melbourne). Oh well – until I discovered Kinglsand road I thought there were NO Vietnamese restaurants in London!

    Joyce – Will have to try those next time.

  5. Being from Melbourne I’ve tried various restaurants along Vic st and agree that Vi’em is one of the better ones.

    However I’d also like to add that following 4 years in London Huong Viet on Englefield Rd is up to this standard. I’d also be so bold to say the salt and pepper squid is better here than in Australia.

    In fact having traveled most of the globe eating this dish I still haven’t found one better.

    Enjoy you lucky Londoners!

  6. Hoss – thanks for your comment I haven’t been to Huong Viet and I love salt and pepper squid so sounds like I will have to make my way there for sure.

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