Hatted modern Vietnamese restaurant Anchovy will close in mid-June, seven years after opening in Bridge Road, Richmond.

Owners Jia-Yen Lee and Thi Le will relaunch the site as a Laotian restaurant some weeks later. “I am taking a break and Anchovy is taking a break with me,” says Le.

“I want to take time to assess and revitalise Anchovy in a new space and look at how I want to represent Vietnamese cuisine.”

Chef Thi Le at Anchovy in 2016.
Chef Thi Le at Anchovy in 2016. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Since reopening after lockdown in spring 2020, Anchovy has been running a set menu.

“Initially it was about costs and wages and making it easier for our staff,” says Lee. “Then as we went on, it became more about exploring Vietnamese cuisine. But our tables are too small, the feel of the dining room isn’t right, the cutlery doesn’t make sense. It got to a point where closing is the right thing to do.”

Le also sees the move as restorative. “I’m mentally and physically tired,” she says. “I love this industry so much that I want to protect my longevity. You spend so much time keeping your staff happy that you forget about yourself. I also think it’s important for me to grow the people around me by stepping away.”

The pork chop at Anchovy.
The pork chop at Anchovy. Photo: Josh Robenstone

The intellectual energy she’s been putting into Anchovy’s oft-changing menus will be transferred into consideration of its next iteration. “Vietnam has such a huge food history but it hasn’t been fully explored,” she says. “I want to do it justice.”

The as-yet-unnamed Laotian eatery is a simpler proposition. “It will be staples and the menu won’t change much,” says Le. Dishes will include beef stew with vegetables, light curries, and larb [salad] with Yarra Valley mushrooms.

“I’m excited to bring Laotian food to Melbourne,” she says. “It’s so delicious, funky and fresh. It’s our next stepping stone and feels like a natural progression within our business.”

Anchovy chef Thi Li offered a tasting menu since reopening after lockdown in spring 2020.
Anchovy chef Thi Li offered a tasting menu since reopening after lockdown in spring 2020.  Photo: Joe Armao

The couple’s daytime venue, Ca Com Banh Mi Bar, will remain next door.

338 Bridge Road, Richmond, 03 9428 3526, anchovy.net.au