Ela Carte reviews Cochin in Richmond
Cochin ? 256 Swan St Richmond ? www.cochin.com.au
Bar/restaurant, French/Vietnamese, Cochin doesn’t like to pigeonhole itself. Let’s just say it’s a pretty nice spot for a bite to eat and a drink.
In a now busy part of Swan Street, sandwiched in between Union Dining and Fonda Mexican, this dark, moody dining space oozes cool.
Staff are top notch, the welcome timely and friendly, they don’t miss a beat ? replacing cutlery and plates between dishes, succinct explanation of the menu, and all with a relaxed delivery that makes you feel like a regular. We weren’t. Yet.
It’s that ever-popular style of menu now ? simply small, medium and large ? all designed to share.
From the smalls, coconut and seafood fritters shone. Just brilliant. Chopped prawn, fish and squid marinated in fish sauce, then mixed with carrots and a coconut milk batter. Deep fried of course and served with traditional Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.
The coconut prawns were a surprise.
A little larger ? the nem nuong were a favourite. Minced pork mixed with black pepper, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar and salt is ‘dried’ in an oven for an hour or two on a low temperature. It’s sliced into rectangle ‘sausages’, served on sheet noodles in lettuce cups and ganished with fried garlic, shallots, peanuts and fresh herbs. A reminder of just how refreshing Vietnamese cuisine can be.
Canh ga chicken wings will taste different to your neighbourhood Vietnamese, after they’re marinated in buttermilk and homemade Saigon seasoning, they’re coated in a gluten free mix and deep fried ? making happy little coeliacs.
Of the larger dishes, prawn in coconut was a surprise. There was no doubting the coconut element, they were sitting in a creamy white sauce that on first appearance I worried might border on the bland. No fear there, these had a kick. The fat prawns are marinated in garlic mince, white pepper, lemongrass and oil, seared, and then mixed in with reduced coconut milk, green beans, vermicelli, and there’s gotta be some chilli in there somewhere.
A traditional, homestyle curry.
Ca Ri Ga is a more traditional, homestyle chicken curry. Thigh pieces are deep fried to maintain texture, then served in a rich curry sauce with potato and carrots.
If you need an excuse to check Cochin out, there are plenty, from the $25 ‘Feed Me’ options on Wednesday nights and Friday lunches; to a Thursday Duck and Pinot evening of three courses with matched fine wines; or Tuesday night gluten free set menus.
In a busy dining strip, Cochin stands out as a friendly option with style and sumptuous food.
Nem nuong: a reminder of how refreshing Vietnamese cuisine can be.
The seafood fritters shone.