a city of settlers from far and beyond to this very day, you could say it has rendered melbourne's culinary landscape one of australia's most vibrant, featuring a rich array of exotic eateries that reflect the heritage of its owners. just north of melbourne's cbd lies collingwood, an area of town where a flourishing vietnamese community has already set up a handful of shops and restaurants. but very recently a striking newcomer has created waves by pairing traditional vietnamese dishes with a funky, off-beat setting. called phamily kitchen, a playful twist on owner john pham's family name, the restaurant occupies a modest victorian era shopfront on smith street, the neighbourhood's main thoroughfare.
the interior design, by mathew van kooy of john wardle architects, is inspired by traditional vietnamese food vendors’ use of colour to define, through minimal intervention, a new setting within an existing raw shell. a band of electric light blue covers the floor, walls, chairs and tables, and is topped by a band of pegboard in pristine white, adorned with zigzag neon lights. the backdrop, however, is the original old bare brick walls. the newly stuccoed ceiling in a soft pink hue adds to this meticulously constructed visual tension between the old and the new. phamily kitchen is open for lunch and dinner, serving a wide choice of traditional vietnamese classics. location: 374 smith street [collingwood].