Co Thu Quan, Shop 11-12, 10 Droop St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 1451
CTS HQ is, I suspect, like most westie households that like to get out, about and on the fang.
We go in cycles and ebbs and flows.
For instance, the quite recent times when we seemed hellbent on tracking down every curry house in the west actually seem a bit like fading memories.
Seems like we’ve had enough biryani for the time being!
But what of Vietnamese tucker?
Ah, pretty much the heart and soul of western suburbs food.
Yet so deeply interwoven is it into all our lives, it’s a bit easy to take it for granted.
Not that we don’t eat it regularly and even weekly.
But when it comes writing and posting about it, well not so much in recent times.
So it gives me giddy pleasure to wax enthusiastically, passionately about Co Thu Quan.
The original version of this eatery was tucked away in Little Saigon Market, becoming one of the victims of that institution’s sad, fiery demise.
Now – after opening branches in Richmond and the CBD – they’re back!
The new Footscray restaurant is on the Droop Street side of the Westville Central building, in the shopfront previous occupied by the sadly short-lived Issan Thai Street Food.
There have been changes.
The original Co Thu Quan was all about snack-style street food.
This new place, done out in nice dark wood and all abuzz with zippy, cheerful service, has a vastly expanded menu.
Instead of light snacks there’s a plethora of noodles, salads, vermicelli, rice, soups and much, much more.
And it’s all – or almost all – cheap, cheap, cheap. Think under $15.
And while you can order pho here, there are so many other glittering, intriguing choices, it would be folly to do so.
Here, by their many dozens, are dishes you’ll not find elsewhere in Footscray or the west.
Yet, by and large, there is very little on the massive menu that is bracing or confrontational for those less adventurous or not much inclined towards the intestinal.
Hoi an chicken rice ($12) is a simple, light, refreshing and superbly enjoyable take on the universal chook/rice combo.
There’s a lot more shredded chicken atop that rice than the above photo suggests.
Clear shrimp dumplings ($10) are wobbly parcels stuffed with shrimp and ground pork.
They’re fun to eat, but a tad shy of the flavor explosions I was anticipating.
Nat enjoys slurping on his water spinach crab noodles ($12).
Immersed in its chicken broth and freshwater crab paste are rice noodles, pork and crab meatball, pork sausage, fried tofu, tomato, water spinach, congealed pork blood, topped with fried shallot and green onion; tamarind sauce on the side.
Now that’s a meal.
Asked to describe it in three evocative words, he proffers pungent, salty and sour.
For me, Vietnamese crab noodle soup is an uncharacteristically rash choice.
It costs $27 – a ridiculous amount to pay for a single bowl of soup noodles.
But I utterly adore it and have no regrets about paying for it.
Fresh crab of this quality is usually only consumed in communal settings, so I revel in my singular enjoyment of the chunky shellfish bits.
But just as good is the hearty, delicious chook/crab soup in which the tapioca noodles, a single prawn and fresh mushrooms happily swim.
We plan on spending much time in the rest of the year exploring the Footscray Co Thu Quan menu.