Jacksonville woman opens restaurant inspired by her mom’s cooking

Mel Chan and her husband opened CO3 VIETaco inspired by Chan’s mom and the traditional food she grew up eating during the holidays.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mel Chan moved to Jacksonville from Atlanta about a year and a half ago. She loved the city, but she felt like one thing was missing: Vietnamese food. 

She wanted her culture to be represented in the food scene. Using her mom’s recipes, Chan and her husband opened CO3 VIETaco off Beach Boulevard.

CO3 is a Vietnamese nickname for her mother. VIETaco is their namesake dish mixing traditional street with someone everyone loves: tacos. 

Chan had a soft opening during September to perfect the dishes with the help of her mom.

“There’s a lot of spice that goes with this. A lot of different ingredients,” Chan said. “So she spent a whole month preparing with us and with our executive chef to make sure he cooks it the right way to bring the culture and represent it the right way.”

Their menu is focused on dishes with a Vietnamese crepe as the base: Banh Xeo, Banh Khot, and the VIETaco. 

“Growing up we ate (banh xeo and banh khot) every other holiday and so it was a special dish for our family and we wanted to bring it to the public,” Chan said.

The crepes hold a variety of proteins from squid to chicken. They look like eggs, but Chan says they are yellow from the turmeric. The crepes are made with turmeric, coconut, wheat and rice flour.

The third dish on their menu, the namesake, is something Chan created. She turns the crepes into a taco shell by frying it and forming it into the shape of a taco shell. The taco will debut at their grand opening on Sunday. 

To learn more about new restaurants and unique bites on the first coast, follow and like First Coast Foodies on Facebook.

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