Co Do

Diverse appeal: The new Co Do has a swanky fitout.
Diverse appeal: The new Co Do has a swanky fitout. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

290 Hampshire Road Sunshine, Victoria 3020

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Opening hours Daily 9am-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, BYO, Family friendly, Cheap Eats
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9939 0850

In some ways, eating at Co Do plays straight to the heart, the sentimental part that goes all soft for the old ways. I'm not talking Amish-like homegrown old ways; more the pan-flute muzak, free BYO whatever, and eating two courses for less than $20 old ways. But don't get too marshmallowy, this is Sunshine, around which big industry once revolved, and where you might be asked: "Can you eat blood?"

Co Do's far-ranging menu of 227 savoury dishes is primarily Vietnamese but also takes in Chinese (congee and dishes with blackbean, Mongolian and Sichuan sauces), Singaporean (fried noodles), Cambodian (rice noodle dishes), Thai (curries and toppings), and Aussie-Asian (lemon chicken, and sweet-and-sour battered chicken). In Sunshine, an amazing range of nationalities come together so it's fitting its restaurants do too. But order outside your type, like me, a non-Asian ordering a hard-core Vietnamese speciality, and staff will make sure you're cool with congealed blood.

I wasn't sure I would be, honestly; the bun bo hue I'd had elsewhere didn't come with the liver-coloured pate-looking piece of pig's blood (which I ate around after tasting). Bun bo (from Hue city, in central Vietnam) is a beef noodle soup that's more spicy and shrimp-paste funky than its much-loved fragrant pho cousin – of which they do a very fine version here. Bun bo hue has super slippery rounded rice noodles, big pieces of pepper-studded pork loaf and beef loaf, and slices of steamed pork and beef. Add mint, beanshoots, fresh lemon juice, shredded lettuce and purple cabbage at will.

Banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake).
Banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake). Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Another Vietnamese speciality (this one out-and-out friendly) is the banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake). Its arrival is preceded by a giant plate of leaves (curly lettuce, cos, mints, red amaranth) to wrap around pieces of pancake. The pancake, jutting out over both ends of its plate, is lacy, made with coconut-milk and studded with whole prawns (crunchy heads intact), pork pieces and mungbeans, filled with beanshoots. Dip your leaf-wrapped pancake in lemon-and-fish sauce. It's terrific, and enormous ­– it could almost become an iconic big thing: the giant Vietnamese pancake of Sunshine.

This new Co Do, here since July, has a swanky fitout of high-backed banquette seating, stonework walls and funky wood panelling. It's on Hampshire Road, just behind the rejuvenated train station and historic heart of the place – the Sunshine Harvester Works' building, on Harvester Road. The original Co Do is still on Victoria Street, Richmond, and owned by the same family, but the chef has moved to Sunshine.

And more will; it's in Zone 1, has amazing diversity, free street parking, and excellent restaurants like this, where you can buy a kids serve of pho for $2, then tuck into a good old-fashioned golden banana fritter. 

THE LOW-DOWN
Do ... Love the free tea, fresh chopped chilli and sauce bar on every table.
Don't ... Dig fritters? A smoothie, maybe avocado or coconut, is a great stand-in for dessert.
Dish ... Banh xeo.
Vibe ... Sunshine-bright, quick turnaround restaurant.