Chumanchu (formerly Fu Manchu), Preston, Melbourne
It’s had a little name change recently (although they seem to have forgotten to change it on their Facebook page..?!), but Chumanchu, brother restaurant of the delightful Miss Chu, is still delivering some seriously delicious Vietnamese food in a hip yet homely space.
Dad and I try to catch up for dinner every few weeks, just us two, but he’s been super busy at work lately. When he called last week and said he’d have some time coming up, I was pretty excited; he said he felt like Vietnamese or Japanese food, told me to pick the place, and he’d pick up the bill – thanks, Dad :)
We had a good look at the menu, and I recognised a few dishes I’d actually tried in Vietnam, so I was a bit more excited! Dad’s only request was the satay chicken skewers, and told me he’d trust my picks on another few dishes to share.
The satay chicken skewers ($9.00 for 3 pieces) were really good, but pretty small for the price we paid. The satay sauce was phenomenal though, had a good hit of spice, and a solid lemongrass flavour which actually worked amazingly well with the peanuts.
Next up were the prawn bahn cuon ($12.00 for 2 pieces), a steamed rice paper crepe filled with prawns and sitting on a bed of bean sprouts, topped with crispy shallots and herbs. These were really good, better value for money; they were packed full of prawns.
We then shared a serving of pork and prawn banh xeo ($18.00) which I’d eaten a LOT of in Vietnam and really loved… this was at least 3 times as big as the biggest one I ate over there, packed full of pork, prawns, bean sprouts and mung beans) with a really tasty, perfectly balanced sauce on the side. I’d go back just for this, it was honestly amazing!
After polishing all of that off, Dad (who’s a fit, strong, skinny guy) announced that he was still hungry, and insisted I pick another dish. I’m a HUGE pork belly lover, but not so much Dad; “it’s just fat, isn’t it?” Yeah, and it’s delicious. I told him to pick his choice, but he said he trusted my food judgement and we ordered the braised pork belly ($18.00), slow cooked in broth, with Asian greens, quail eggs and shitake mushrooms with kim chi, and a side of roti bread. This ended up being Dad’s favourite dish of the night. The pork literally fell away at my fork and the flavour of the broth was like nothing I’d ever had before. It was strong without being overpowering, and very moreish.
Great food and a fantastic few hours hanging out with one of my favourite people in the world :) I would definitely be keen to come back and visit again, but, like Miss Chu, it’d have to be infrequent visits; it’s not cheap. Compared to the incredible 50c bahn cuon we had in Vietnam, the pricing here seemed to be quite excessive. I’ve also heard that breakfasts are pretty amazing, so might have to make that the next visit!