Monday, April 30, 2012

VinTam's Bakery

Poor old Docklands.  Remember the burning luxury yacht last month?  This tweet pretty much sums up the mood about our waterfront precinct.


The problem with these manufactured areas (think Southbank and Fed Square) is they don't really develop naturally.  In food terms, they open ready-populated with cafes and restaurants that have been installed to hit certain price points and not much else.  I was at Fed Square recently and asked the usher at ACMI, "Where's the best coffee place here?"  She looked at me helplessly and we both smiled.  "Degraves Street?" she finally offered.


That's why VinTam's Bakery, tucked away in Docklands, is really exciting.  Walk past endless cookie-cutter panini bars and you'll come across this bakery and Vietnamese cafe, so popular it has reversed the trend and actually taken over an empty shop next door.


They do good banh mi, from mixed ham to nem nuong (a springy, hot pink pork kebab) plus a menu of home-style Vietnamese dishes like ca ri ga (chicken curry), Vietnamese coleslaw and pho.

Beef pho, $10

This sliced beef pho was delish and could hold its head up anywhere along Hopkins Street.  The beef, tender brisket and rare wafer-thin slices, was tasty and the broth well seasoned and rich with hints of star anise.  There was only one measly sprig of Thai basil, but perhaps the punters around here don't add it and so they're understandably cutting their losses.  

BBQ chicken banh mi, $6.50

This banh mi was literally heavy in its paper bag.  It was light on salad but so generous with yummy chopped chicken thighs luxuriating in a hoi sin glaze.  The bread was proper and the chilli was plentiful.  It's not Nhu Lan but a good effort all the same.  Other banh mi varieties are slightly cheaper at $5.50.

Com tam, $10

This classic com tam had a sweet and tender pork chop, generous broken rice and lovely sunny egg.  It didn't quite match up to Footscray but in the local stakes it's good.  "Broken rice" is literally broken rice.  It's long grain rice like jasmine, broken into pieces.  It used to be a cheap by-product of the milling process but now it's produced on its own merits.  It's stickier than normal rice and soaks up the dressing better.


The staff are lovely and it gets really busy around office worker feeding time.  There are multiple friendly people serving so it doesn't take long.  If you score a sunny day, it's gorgeous to sit outside and there's a big area where the kids can run around.


Aww, Docklands isn't that bad after all.  As for coffee in Fed Square...well...  Make a run for it down Flinders Street to the Banana Alley Vaults, where you'll find the delightful T-Roy Browns.  This little coffee cave is well worth the walk.  (Check 'em out at Milk Bar Mag too.)

Vintam's Bakery Cafe' on Urbanspoon

VinTam's Bakery
Shop 109, 111 Merchant Street, Docklands
Hours:  Mon-Fri day time, closed weekends

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  1. Good deal! Funny thing is, I quite fancy living at Docklands. I miss living in the CBD, so maybe that way I'd get the best of both worlds.

    1. You know, I was saying to Mr Baklover if they put a really good state high school down there, I would consider moving when the kids get a bit older and don't need a backyard or local playground as badly.

  2. I could walk to this bakery! Kinda.. maybe.. yeah...

    Along Bay St in Port Melb we got a (previously) bakery converted into a Vietnamese cafe, was called Glenda's, now called Glenda Pho Cafe, lol. The menu isn't very authentic looking at all, assorted rolls but no banh mis. I will, however, check out the pho bo.

    And you've just reminded me to check out T-Roy Browns! May pop by that neat little spot tomorrow before lunch!

  3. Ooh, Docklands actually having something worth eating? That's good news. On to the list it goes!

  4. Great find in the Docklands I also ate at a new place there called Non Solo Pasta which was pretty decent as well - maybe there is some hope for the area!

  5. Hi all, sorry for late response. Did you catch the South Wharf feature in the last Epicure? Lots of exciting options in there. There's hope for Docklands yet!


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