Annam Restaurant and Bar
56 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC
03 9654 6627
If you’re a fan of Pho Nom, the Emporium and Collins Street Vietnamese venue, you’ll be happy to know that Chef Jerry Mai is bringing yet another restaurant to Melbourne’s Laneways – Annam, this time with a fine dining finesse. Opening its doors in August, Annam has taken on its Vietnamese heritage with pride, adding a contemporary twist that sets it apart from its Pho Nom siblings.
Annam is an ode to Jerry’s Vietnamese heritage and life in Australia since arriving here as a refugee in 1984. The name is a nod to the slang term used by the French when referring to the capital during the Indochinese Federation until 1954, but also the central Vietnamese region that is home to Hue, known as the cultural capital. As such, Annam was chosen to represent the multi-cultural influences on Vietnamese cuisine and the contemporary takes on its cooking.
When it comes to food, Jerry is committed to supporting trustworthy producers and local growers, ensuring that every dish is made with the utmost quality and care. As well as top tier ingredients, Jerry has introduced contemporary takes on traditional Vietnamese cooking techniques, predominantly charcoal cooking that happens on site using charcoal made in-house. Expect to see smoky charcoal flavours in traditional dishes like curries and stir-fries, as well as fresh options like light rice paper rolls and torched seafood.
If you are in a rush and can’t stick around for the full Annam experience, never fear. Jerry has now developed her quick style office lunch, aptly named ‘Office Rice’. A direct translation of the Vietnamese phrase Com Van Phong, this $18 special will change depending on season and ingredients, with a selection of different rice bowls being available each day.
Jerry has teamed up with Rani Doyle of Richmond’s National Hotel for this venture, with Jerry taking control of the kitchens and Rani taking care of what you’ll be drinking. With Rani at the helm of the bar, there’ll be an immense selection of wines, beers, spirits and cocktails to choose from that will pair beautifully with the up-market menu and provide the ideal accompaniment for day to night dining.
For those looking for a quick pick up, Annam has teamed up with local specialty coffee roaster Paul Phillips to create an exclusive blend just for the restaurant. An untraditional roast, the beans are roasted in butter and cocoa as well as a touch of rum, resulting in a coffee with a unique aroma and flavour. It can be drunk hot, cold or in a classic Vietnamese coffee with or without condensed milk, and it is available in all coffee served at Annam.
As for the restaurant itself, architect Emlyn Olaver has taken inspiration from an Asian street market, incorporating the energy of these spaces into the restaurants design. The combination of exposed brick walls, large communal tables designed for sharing and reclaimed materials set against neon lights, a visit to Annam is all about creating a tangible journey that will invigorate all of the senses.
Whether it be a long lunch or a fresh South East Asian dinner, those hankering for authentic Vietnamese fare need no reminding to bump this one to the top of the list.