Phở Ta – Footscray

Pho Ta

I got the heads up about Phở Ta from Consider the Sauce and I was super keen to check it out. Located not on the usual strip, but on Nicholson Street below the mall. There are no other Vietnamese restaurants in the immediate vicinity. This is for people in the know willing the venture out of the way. And the road less trodden is worth a visit.

Phở Ta is a pure soup house – read forgot getting anything vegetarian here. There is traditional phở, drinks (soft drinks, 3 coloured drinks and bean and soy varieties) and that was the entire menu, the venue is small and well lit, but extremely light on ambiance (if you’ll pardon the pun) perhaps that is because it is utilitarian. There are no faux plants, landscape paintings of Vietnam or waving cats, less than 10 tables….it’s pretty small.

I’ve been there twice and each time it’s been pretty much dead, but that is ok because it guarantees a quiet meal away from noisy families and you won’t be waiting for a table.

Three sizes are available Small = $7.50, Medium $8.50 and large 9.50, with multiple variations of Beef with all the usual versions (brisket, beef balls, tendon, tripe).

I had the rare beef and brisket which is always a good indicator of quality of the cuts of meat because you can really see what you’re eating.

The beef was thinly sliced as it needs to be for a rare beef Pho to enable it to cook in front of you in the hot broth.

I really liked the addition of very finely chopped onion, coriander, basil and spring onion on top of the soup, it mixes up the well-worn classic a bit and gets bonus points for being a little different

I’ve actually visited here twice and found the stock to be quite different on both occasions, the first being transparent and light on the salt with a weaker flavor and the second packing a bit more of a punch.

The sides were all of the usual: chilli oil, Hoisin sauce, and the bean sprouts, lime and chilli was nice and fresh. The noodles were a fraction thinner than usual which doesn’t really change the eating experience that much.

If you’re looking to step away from the ever popular Hopkins st, than make sure you check it out.

Stock: 3 – I liked the transparency, but a little light on flavour, big difference in flavour the two times.

Inside: 4 – Thinly cut meat with no fat

On the side: 4 – chilli is fresh with bite, crunchy sprouts, fresh herbs and lime.

Extras: 2 – Noodles were fine, the tea was decent



131 Nicholson Street Footscray, VIC

03 9041 2607

Pho Ta on Urbanspoon


Hung Vuong Saigon – Footscray

Voung Hung

The benchmark for west-side phở, but not for vegetarians

The big daddy of the Footscray phở scene, Hung Vuong Saigon has been a key player on Hopkins Street for forever and a day. With 20+ tables, it is like a loud bustling food hall, packed with families, couples and friendly for the single reveller. It’s light on ambiance, but the food delivers and you’re not here for a first date, right.

Service is a well-(chilli)oiled machine, not particularly friendly, but easily forgiven for being so highly efficient. The food will be on the table before you have time to ponder: hoisin or no hoisin?

There is more on the menu than just phở, but why would you bother? You’re here for one reason only – great tasting phở – and so is the horde of Vietnamese and others. If the adage ‘go where the locals go’ holds any truth, this is the place to be. If you manage to get a table. Luckily the wait is never too long.

Phở comes in 3 sizes (small $8.50, medium $9.50, large $11) and with some variety, but the hero is the beef. All the classical variants: brisket, tendon, sausage and tripe for the more adventurous. Leave the vegetarians at home, these guys specialise in the authentic stuff, you won’t find a vegetarian option in sight.

You can tell they have been making this favourite staple in big steaming batches for a long, long time. The stock is perfectly balanced with uncompromising clarity. The flavour is strong, yet not overpowering, enhancing the overall experience without dominating it. I usually order the beef brisket. The finely-sliced brisket is added at the very last moment, so that it cooks as the hot soup is poured over it. Whilst the thicker-cut beef – with a little fat still left on – is added earlier allowing it to cook for longer. The fat may not be too healthy, but it adds to the flavour.

Noodles are the standard flat rice variety and you have to get in quick or they are prone to getting soggy. The bowl comes with little else beyond the beef and the noodles making personalisation a central task and there is plenty of ingredients to do so. Perfectly fresh greens are served on the side: cut chilli, Vietnamese mint, basil and bean sprouts.

Sauces are all the usual suspects’ including chilli sauce and chillies in oil, vinegar and hoisin. In addition to the usual sides, Hung Vuong also offers pickled sliced onion, which adds a tang and is well worth a try.

Hung Vuong doesn’t break from tradition or offer anything too unique, but what it does do, it does well. In many ways, this is the benchmark for west-side phở. Highly recommend.

  1. Stock: 5 – the stock is the benchmark for what all stocks should be compared against, it doesn’t do anything different, but it does it really well.
  2. Inside: 4 – good tasting meat, but the cut could be a little better.
  3. On the side: 4 – chilli is fresh with bite, crunchy sprouts and fresh herbs.
  4.  Extras: 4 – good noodles, an extra point for the pickled onions as something different, the tea is decent and I’ll be back (again and again).

Score: 17/20

Address: 128 Hopkins St Footscray VIC 3011
(03) 9689 6002

Pho Hung Vuong Saigon on Urbanspoon

Babanbè – Berlin

Noodle Soup

The vegetarian soup from Babanbè Berlin

The Beef Phở fromBabanbè Berlin

The Beef Phở from Babanbè Berlin

Cool branding with on-trend typography, coupled with a modern interior drew us to Babanbè like moths to a hip, over-designed flame. Lots of natural light, space and birch-coloured wooden communal tables designed with Scandinavian simplicity equals a stylin’ place to catch up over over phở or banh mi.

The menu at Babanbè is concise with 3 types of phở (beef, chicken or veggie) and 7 bien mah options with 2 vego. Being an omnivore and vego, we ordered the classic beef (7.45 Euro) and the vegetable (6.45 Euro) respectively. All the staff were cool Berlin hipsters and distinctly non-Vietnamese, but on a desperate search for our fave elixir we chose to withhold judgement until after trying it.

Served in designer asymmetrical bowls, the soup looked good, in a modern, slightly non-traditional kind of way. We’re open to reinterpretations. The herbs and bean sprouts were served already in the soup – which is a bit of a no-no as it messes with the crunch – coriander was ample, but there was no mint in sight.

The beef stock was dark and didn’t have the usual light colour and clarity that we’re used to, and sadly lacked magic i.e. salt trying to compensate for lack of flavour. We all know that it takes the better part of a day to cook the stock, but this felt like it was boiling water with a Vegeta stock cube. The beef was thinly cut as it should be, but I suspect pre-cooked prior to being added to the soup making it a little tough making the whole experience unexceptional.

The veggie version wasn’t any better. It probably had the same brand of stock cube. With only dried porcini mushrooms and no other vegetables besides the sprouts in a salty watery broth, it left me distinctly unsatisfied.

Condiments were a necessity for both the soups. The chopped chilli in a fish sauce in jars on the table and fresh chilli and cut lime on offer didn’t quite take it to the next level, although they were fresh and the chilli was hot.

All in all, we wanted to love Babanbè, because it just looked so damn hip and modern – plus we hadn’t eaten phở in weeks – but the phở fell short on flavour. Perhaps they excel at the banh mi. They are called Babanbè: the banh mi deli, afterall.

  1.  Stock: 2 – lack of flavour compensated with too much salt
  2. Inside: 3 – beef was pre-cooked, veggie option had had dried porcini mushrooms, served with bean sprouts and coriander inside the soup
  3. On the side: 4 – fresh chilli and lime
  4. Extras: 2 – noodles delivered, ambience was fantastic, lost out on the we’ll-be-back factor

TOTAL: 11/20

Address:Oranienplatz 2, 10999 Berlin, Germany