Cindy and David Nguyen have expanded their much-loved vegan Vietnamese restaurant Metta Sol into a second home, nestled inside Central Market Plaza bulk food store Whole+Some.
Metta Sol has brought Vietnamese breakfast broths and sandos to the city
Despite being tired from a late night the night before “making sure everything was ready”, the plant-based Vietnamese eatery’s first day in the Central Market Plaza was “really good” and they’ve sold out of almost everything.
“We had no idea it was going to be so busy. We just made what we could,” Cindy explains. “But of course, we were like ‘We need more food’ just being raised how we were raised.”
“This wasn’t our first rodeo, though” David adds.
Metta Sol’s Market Arcade presence offers a reduced version of what’s available at the Goodwood restaurant, but has a particular focus on catering to the takeaway business crowd.
Office workers are encouraged to mosey through in the morning and pick up a coffee made with local roaster Kappy’s Tea and Coffee beans, and try a Forager Bowl or Metta Sando.
The Metta Sando is a riff on the banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese staple, which includes almond satay, tofu and pepper-braised mushrooms stuffed inside Mylor Bakery bread.
The roll itself is sourced from Metta Sol’s co-tenants, Whole+Some (formerly Goodies and Grains). Cindy explains the fortuitous partnership was forged three weeks ago.
“Three weeks ago, [Whole+Some] approached us and told us they had a space and they were looking for someone to take over it, to serve food,” she says.
“The thing was we talked about expanding anyway, so it worked out well. They’ve also been really accommodating.”
The Forager Bowl is made from “what’s good and fresh on the day”, but usually includes pepper-braised mushrooms with garlic broccoli, Chinese spinach and bock choy. It sits on a bed of brown rice and is topped with pickled carrot, daikon and cucumber.
But what Cindy and David really want to encourage is for their customers to change their ideas of breakfast can be.
The duo say they grew up eating dishes like congee, stir-fries and noodle soups for breakfast, and Cindy believes if people want the full Metta Sol experience, they should try a morning soup.
“Instead of a coffee pick-me-up why not a broth?” Cindy says.
“There are so many spices in it. It’s just so nourishing.”
The broth changes regularly, but currently it consists of kelp, bock choy and shiitake and enoki mushrooms.
Metta Sol’s Goodwood menu changes with the seasons, and the most recent autumn-winter menu was launched a day before the Central Market Plaza debut.
Before we leave, we ask Cindy and David if they’re going to have a good sleep tonight. “Well try,” Cindy answers, laughing.
“But this place is always going to keep us on our toes. That’s the joy of it.”