The Uncle story began in 2014 when Rene Spence and Dai Duong opened Uncle, a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant and bar on Carlisle Street in St Kilda. The success of the St Kilda restaurant led them to open their second Uncle restaurant earlier this year, this time on Collins Street in Melbourne CBD.
Open from 12pm every day (except Sundays), Uncle's latest addition is the perfect lunch spot for those working in the east end of the city. Occupying the first floor of Collins Square overlooking the tree-lined thoroughfare, the space is fresh, modern and relaxing – making it so hard to head back to the office after a leisurely long lunch there.
The food is also another reason why it's so easy to linger a little longer here – and the inspiring cocktail list certainly doesn't help either. It's hard to go past Uncle's Mekong Spice, currently one of Melbourne's most popular cocktails. It's made with Stolen white rum, mango sorbet, tea shrub, lime and chilli, and topped with a coconut foam. If this cocktail doesn't make you think of summer at the beach, then I don't know what will.
Uncle's signature Mekong Splice cocktails
The menu is designed to share among friends so ordering a few small dishes and one or two larger plates is the way to go. Of course, you can still order several small dishes and you'll still be full. Either way, the ball is in your court. We suggest starting light with the lime cured hapuka with coconut, pomegranate and chilli on fresh betel leaves. With so much flavour in one bite, this starter is a sign of things to come at Uncle.
Lime cured hapuka on betel leaf
You also can't leave without trying something from their banh mi and bao menu. Their crispy pigs ear banh mi slider with pickles and peanuts was one of the dishes from the original St Kilda menu that made it across to the Collins Street menu and it's not hard to see why. I absolutely loved the textural contrast between the crunchy slivers of pigs ears and the soft, buttery buns. Meanwhile, another excellent banh mi is Uncle's young rice prawn banh mi with avocado puree, sriracha mayo and dill, an Uncle Collins Street exclusive. It's tasty and so addictive, especially if you love prawns like I do.
Uncle's prawn and crispy pigs ear banh mi sliders
While Uncle's menu is designed to share, there are dishes that can be enjoyed on its own as a meal such as the black wild rice dish. It comes with a delicious medley of nuts, grains, chilli and fragrant herbs, topped with a panko-crumbed hen's egg. It's tasty and also most suitable for those who wish to stick to their clean eating regime during lunch.
Uncle's black wild rice with panko-crumbed hen's egg
There are many more wonderful things on the Uncle menu but we suggest you head down there one lunch time (or even after work as they're open until 11pm). Can't decide what to order? Then opt for their $28 lunchtime set menu where they'll do the choosing for you or go all out and order their Uncle Knows Best banquet for $59 per head. Oh, and don't forget to grab a cocktail too!
Address: 1/15 Collins Street
Phone: 03 9652 0829
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12pm to 11pm