165 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056

Australian design studio, Be Friendly has delivered this elegant fit out for GOODdays, a Vietnamese restaurant in Brunswick, Melbourne.

Working in collaboration with owner / head chef Nam Nguyen, director Matthew Stuckey’s design reflects the modest menu on offer (four main dishes, one entrée). The rich walnut cladding and bar counter are complemented by the mint green interior and classic brass detailing, amounting to a crisp and focused look that is atypical of Vietnamese eateries.

“The idea was that the layout should evoke the menu’s neatness and simplicity,” says Stuckey. “Nam and my basic philosophy is that it is better to do a few things very well rather than do a bunch of things just okay.”

“The materials, solid walnut with brass accents, aren’t what you’d usually associate with a Vietnamese noodle joint,” concedes Stuckey, “they were chosen to reflect the quality of the ingredients, all the proteins are ethically sourced and the vegan options are incredible. The entire fit out is designed to encourage diners to reconsider their perception of Vietnamese food. It’s very intentional.”

Taking layout inspiration from the pokey ramen-ya dotted throughout Japan, the store puts customers face to face with chefs and shoulder to shoulder with other diners along the counter seating, with a couple of extra tables rounding out the store’s capacity to only 24 people.

“Being a small kitchen and reasonably small shop there is no hierarchy,” says Stuckey. “The cook might also be the guy that takes your order or pours your beer. It is a warm, unpretentious way to operate, which reflects the owner’s personality.”

In the pots bubbling away behind the counter are the store’s selection of vegan and omnivore soup broths. The vegan selection, which occupies half the menu, is the result of a process of meticulous development by the chef, who had long lamented the bland flavour of the vegetable-based pho found in most Vietnamese restaurants. Here, the rich taste is drawn out of a blend of mushrooms and kombu kelp – yet more proof that there’s strength in simplicity.


  • The design goal was to find a balance between creating a space which is humble and inviting; and a space which is remarkable enough to elevate the perception of what Vietnamese food, especially pho can be.
    – The building was a neighbourhood fish and chip shop for decades and more briefly a Chinese takeaway. The first task was gutting and degreasing the space; and bringing it up to current accessibility standards.
    – Both Nam (owner) and Matt (designer) have spent time in Japan (Matt used to live there and goes back every year) and LOVE the ramen scene. The ramen-ya(ramen shop) aesthetic influence is evident in the open kitchen, communal counter style dining, the use of warm wood through out, and the efficient use of a limited space.
    – The materials used throughout are: walnut, brass, powder coated steel and hexagonal mosaic tiles.
    – The counter and communal table were made for us by Alex Rains
  • The suspended cabinet serves two functions: 1. it provides much needed storage for the kitchen, & 2. it helps create a more intimate scale to the space, which actually has a quite cavernous ceiling height; and frames the diner’s view from seated height. The cabinet is made of walnut, powder coated steel and brass mesh – the use of mesh makes the cabinet seem lighter, and forces the kitchen staff to keep everything tidy (an intentional device by the designer)


Client: GOODdays

Collaborating Designers: Matthew Stuckey

Studio: Be Friendly

Brands: TON