“Ferociously fresh Vietnamese”

Born in Malaysia to Vietnamese parents, Franky Pham grew up in a home filled with the flavours, smells and memories of traditional Vietnamese cooking. Growing up in Australia, Pham’s inherited love and appreciation of fresh, vibrant food blossomed into a passion which motivated him to relocate to Vietnam in 2011. Over the following two years, Pham honed his craft at awarding-winning Pots n’ Pans in Hanoi and K.O.T.O., a restaurant and social enterprise linked to Box Hill Institute, in Ho Chi Minh City. It was during this time that the budding chef mastered the intricacies and complexities of Vietnamese cuisine, immersing himself in the nuanced flavours and textures of the surrounding provinces, as well. The result? Pham returned to Melbourne with an unbridled enthusiasm to celebrate the diversity and subtleties of Vietnamese cuisine against the backdrop of the modern Australian approach to dining. His local reconnection commenced with a stint in the kitchen of Richmond’s Feast of Merit before landing his current post, head chef at Hawthorn East’s St Cloud Eating House.

James Klapanis, former owner of Toorak’s Quaff, opened his 2-storey Vietnamese restaurant in 2015 on the former site of a bedding store located at 644 Burwood Road. Hidden behind the smartly painted black-and-white façade, St Cloud Eating House’s industrial space is adorned with festoon lighting, Asian condiment-stacked shelves and bursts of softening greenery throughout and was designed by Therefore Studio and interior stylist Elle Critchley. The décor, alone, does not necessarily indicate that this establishment specialises in “ferociously fresh Vietnamese”. In this way, it is rather subtle; though, it still successfully creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. The presence of a steaming, smoking and electric open-air kitchen, on the other hand, has the power to transport customers to another world, to the hustling, bustling and lively street food markets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The plethora of straight lines and hard surfaces guarantees that the noise factor is on the higher end of the scale, so St Cloud House may not appeal to those seeking a tranquil and contemplative meal. For the majority of locals, however, who absolutely appreciate this brand of upbeat hospitality, Klapanis’ restaurant has remained an outstanding neighbourhood favourite.

St. Cloud Eating House, Hawthorn East

DINE AT ST. CLOUD EATING HOUSE

St. Cloud Eating House, Hawthorn East

BOOK ST. CLOUD EATING HOUSE

St. Cloud Eating House, Hawthorn East

DINE AT ST. CLOUD EATING HOUSE

Despite having been trained in the traditional practices of Vietnamese cuisine, Head Chef Franky Pham and his food are not bound by this tradition, but rather by bold flavours and quality. As such, Pham leads the kitchen with a combination of both old-school and new-school techniques. His food is honest, fresh, vibrant and bold and is created to be enjoyed in a festive and celebratory manner. Street Eats include chicken wings bathed in a fish sauce caramel, sticky rice, pickles and Thai basil; the daily rotating banh mi, or Vietnamese baquette; twice-cooked cauliflower served with whipped tofu, chilli dressing, sesame, spring onion and coriander; and cured salmon, pineapple, shallots and herbs. The quintessential rice paper roll seems to always successfully invite a smile to the faces of all ages. Try the lemongrass-chilli-coconut chicken with cucumber, lettuce, fresh herbs, hoi sin and chilli dipping sauce. A selection of bowls is also available. Think 5-spice pork belly holding court with pickles, fresh herbs, lettuce, cucumber and bean shoots with either vermicelli noodles or rice. For something a bit bigger and heartier, choose from the hue-style beef ribs covered in red wine, 5-spice reduction, picked daikon, Vietnamese mint and BBH jus or fermented glaze tofu pumpkin intermingled with herbs, fried garlic, chilli and shallots. A modest salad menu is also on offer, as are craft beer, a concise wine list and cocktails which highlight all ingredients Asian – ginger, bean curd jelly, Thai basil, star anise, perilla and sake. And what better place is there to enjoy your tipple of choice than on St Cloud’s heated upstairs deck during sunset? Bookings are recommended, but walk-ins are always welcome.

Lifestyle & Design

Be the first in the know

Receive the latest Kay & Burton property news delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe now No thanks!