Co Thu Quan
Shop 22, Little Saigon Market
63 Nicholson Street
Footscray, VIC 3011
0412 685 558
It was one of those typical Saturday mornings for Fatbee and myself. Him working from 4.30am till 10.30am, and me waking up at leisure whenever my body tells me to (ie. after 9am). During his bus ride home, we’d text each other seeing what we’d feel like eating.
That morning, it transpired that we were both feeling “Asiany”… so Footscray as our usual goto destination popped up. But rather than head for the usual lineup of phos and bun chas, we decided that an investigation of what Cô Thư Quán has to offer would be fun. Hence this visit.
The eatery itself is embedded close to the entrance of Little Saigon Market, which also happens to be my favourite favourite place to ‘groce’ for fresh Asian groceries. Fortunately, it’s located a little bit away from the main part of the bustly market, so you’re sort of spared from the incessant yelling from the vendors trying to sell their $1.99/kg mangoes and $4.99/kg custard apples. Omg… so CHEEP!!
Nước Đậu Rang 4
5 kinds of roasted bean drink
The fitout is quite cute, with bamboo stools, red lanterns, conical hats, wicker baskets and a menu lined with coconut husks. And we were delighted to find that the menu consisted of utterly unfamiliar dishes. A perfect spot for food adventurers.
Fatbee started off with a hot drink made from 5 types of beans… I believe I detected barley, adzuki red beans and black sesame in it. It came nice with the huggably thick consistency of a milkshake.
Vietnamese drip-brewed coffee with/out condensed milk (hot/cold)
I went the traditional route with a perk-me-up Vietnamese hot coffee, served using the proper traditional filter. It took quite a few minutes to have all of my coffee percolate down to the cup, but the resultant drink was a knock-your-socks-off thick, strong and super sweet Vietnamese coffee. I loved its heavy, roasty punchiness but would’ve preferred it less sweet. Next time I’ll specify for less condensed milk.
Phá Lấu 5.0
Coconut Beef offal stew served with a baguette
I was feeling pretty adventurous that morning and decided on sampling this dish of beef offal in an orangey coconut stew. It came in a petite entree-sized bowl garnished with Vietnamese mint, you imbibe the soup with a cute little teaspoon and pick at the offal with a satay stick. And to accompany it, a fluffy baguette and a sweet-tangy ‘nuoc cham’ like sauce with definite hints of fragrant calamansi lime.
The stew was mildly sweet and coconutty and it went very nicely with the selections of beef offal in it, I actually liked it a lot. On the left is a piece of tripe and floating on top of the spoon (pictured right) are segments of lung.
The good thing about beef offal is… weird spongy-springy textures aside, it usually contains hardly any offensive odors to it compared to pig offal, making it a lot more approachable to those of us who’re unfamiliar with it. You just have to get over that initial mental roadblock about eating it. Not to mention I’m all for respecting every part of the animal rather than just eating the muscle and throwing everything else away.
Bánh Dày Chả Cồm 5.0
Vietnamese sticky rice cake with fried pork patty topped with pork floss.
I continued with a ‘hamburger-like’ entree of fried pork patty sandwiched by glutinous rice cakes. The patty came crisp and very tasty, and the dense sticky rice cakes made this dish filling enough to satisfy me for lunch alongside with my offal stew. You have to eat this ‘burger’ using the provided strip of (bamboo?) leaf because if any your fingers touches the glutinous rice cakes, it sticks to you like glue!
Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm 10.0
A vermicelli dish served with fried tofu, steamed pork belly, fried pork patty mixed with young green rice kernels and fermented shrimp sauce
Fatbee had a more lunch-like dish of rice vermicelli with fresh herbs, clean meats, tofu and pork patties. The fermented shrimp sauce took a bit of getting used to at the start and it served as just about the only umami counterpoint in this offering alongside with the oh-so-delicious fried pork patties.
Overall, we loved it too because the components tasted simple, clean and unique. Our main advice to you would be to have the pungent fermented shrimp sauce with all the other clean-tasting components (it brings the dish together nicely) rather than tasting it on its own.
I have to say that this was one of the most unusual ‘brunches’ we’ve had in a long while and we loved every dish we’d encountered. They’ve done very well in offering an incredibly unfamiliar menu (a risky venture) and yet making every dish so tasty, unbastardised and moreish. We’re very keen on coming back soon to sample more of the menu!