Experiences - Australia

Pho Odyssey

Victoria st in the inner-city suburb of Richmond noodle-soup nirvana. It’s the culinary heart of the local Vietnamese community and, despite its slightly dodgy exterior, is home to dozens of great restaurants all selling delicious pho, banh mi and everything else the hipster food community demand.

Of course, like all quality products, there’s pho, and then there’s pho. So, we thought we’d hit some of Victoria street’s hotspots and figure out once and for all where to find that truly transcendent bowl of pho. Matt, Q and Hayley all volunteered to take on this pho-nomenal undertaking, and what follows is their report. We hope you find it as enlightening as we did.

I love pho

The first thing you notice about I love pho is it’s full of white people. Not the most reassuring sight when you’re looking for authentic Asian fare, and we weren’t disappointed. It serves entry level pho in all its average glory from a menu full of pictures and there’s not a tendon in sight! We started with a bowl of chicken pho and the pho chay – that’s vegetarian pho, Hayley is a vego, so blame her – and the vegetarian spring rolls.

Image Credits: Zomato

The soup and rolls came out promptly with the usual accompaniments of bean shoots, Vietnamese mint and lemon slices. The chicken pho was, as Q described, “fancy Asian chicken soup”. This is what all pho is to some degree, but the soup here, while filling and sustaining, was far from amazing. The vegetarian pho was equally underwhelming. The veggies were crisp and fresh, and the noodles pleasantly el dente, but even with sriracha and hoi sin mixed through, it was a little bland. The spring rolls were excellent however, wonderfully crispy and piping hot.

Overall a great way to introduce yourself to Vietnamese cuisine if you’ve never tried it before. Inoffensive and filling, but not one you’d come back to over and over again. Points off for having to ask for chopped chili.

Fina

Next up was Fina and vegan pho. Yep, vegan. We started with the fried “chicken” – tempura coated soy protein – which was actually quite delicious. As for soup, we had the house special – hot noodle soup – and some more vegetarian pho. The hot noodle soup was excellent. Packed with shitake mushroom, bean curd shards, tofu and heaps of veggies and thin rice noodles all swimming in a delicious spicy broth. The veggie pho was an upgrade on I love pho, but still left a little to be desired.

Vegan PhoImage Credits: Zomato

Definitely worth visiting this little gem, even if you’re not vegan. The hot noodle soup was a clear winner, and the faux-meat products were surprisingly delicious. Bonus points for bringing fresh chili out with the soup.

Pho Hung Vuong 2

Sometimes the sequel is better than the original, and Pho Hung Vuong 2 is proof of that. Our final stop on our pho crawl proved to be well worth the wait. This time round we ordered the sliced beef pho, another veggie pho and some spring rolls. The average nature of the spring rolls was overshadowed by just how good the soup was. The broth was rich and delicious, the beef was tender and fine, and the noodles were deliciously firm to the bite. And that was just the beef pho. The vegetarian was equally wonderful, surprisingly flavoursome and full of crunchy veggies. The Vietnamese mint was also the best we had, purple stemmed perfection, and it’s sometimes the little things that make the most difference.

Beef PhoImage Credits: Zomato

If you’re looking for a quality bowl of soup that local Vietnamese eat – it was recommended to us by a Viet friend – then Pho Hung Vuong 2 is a great option. Along with the westernised soups you’ll find more traditional varieties like beef ball and tendon, and they’re all delicious.

So, as we head in to winter and you find yourself craving some pho, we hope that this guide helps you out next time you’re wandering down Victoria st!

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