Phở Victoria – North Melbourne

A quality phở oasis

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Phở Victoria has established a unique proximity, located half-way between Footscray and Victoria St Richmond (two of the Vietnamese food havens of Melbourne) in what can otherwise be described as a ‘phở wasteland’.

Attracting a mix of locals, Queen Vic market visitors (100 metres away) and Prudence visitors (a popular bar two doors away) ensures this place is rarely quiet. A complete lack of competition with other Vietnamese restaurants can sometimes lead to reduced quality, but this is not the case for Phở Victoria.

The menu is extensive, with all the usual Vietnamese dishes, however looking around (especially during the day) the crowd is well and truly here for the phở . The offering is variations of beef, but it also says vegetarian stock is available which I’ll be sure to check-out in the future.

Range of sides was standard: chilli oil, chilli sauce, hoisin and soy. Fresh chilli is available on request and is clearly freshly cut (very important).

Ordering the standard brisket and beef balls it arrived promptly with finely chopped spring and purple onions on top.

Great stock, slightly heavier in flavour and very cloudy it didn’t really need much in the way of sauces to enhance it which is testament to the quality, beef slices were of medium thickness, still thin enough to cook properly through In the hot broth and contained some fat.

Noodles were a bit soft, I suspect they might have been added when then the stock was very hot, the upside is the beef balls were properly cooked through and fairly tender (for a processed, out of the packed beef ball).

The produce on the side was pretty fresh, sprouts were good, basil wasn’t bad and there was a surprising inclusion of a slice of orange instead of lemon, which was extremely unusual…but is not actually a bad thing.

Overall Pho Victoria is a surprise hit, standing well on it’s own despite the total lack of competition.

  1. Stock: 4 – complex and strong, no condiments required.
  2. Inside: 3 – meat was fine onion on top keeps it interesting.
  3. On the side: 4 – Everything was fresh, chilli on demand keeps it fresh.
  4. Extras: 4 – Good service, tea is ok, some ambiance and worth a revisit.

Score: 15/20

Pho Victoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thanh Nga Nine – Richmond

A Victoria Street mainstay, but a phở miss



Thanh Nga Nine is a popular much-loved establishment on Victoria Street in Richmond, consistently filled with families and couples for a meal out.

Family-owned and run, the venue is brightly lit and colourful with lots of statues of Buddha, pictures of food and a well-stocked bar. The eponymous Thanh Nga, is usually overlooking the kitchen, whilst her son runs a tight ship on the dining floor. He is super friendly, knows the menu inside out when it comes to the ingredients in each dish and is always accommodating – a winner with vegetarians, vegans and food intolerants.

I’ve been a long-term fan of Thanh Nga Nine and with 280 odd items on the menu, including some unique dishes like mini Vietnamese pancakes and mung bean pie not available at many of the other places, I consider it an excellent place to invite the fussier eater or people not accustomed to Victoria Street. But the relevant question for us: is it a place to eat phở?

Well, it’s a not a phở joint – the interior is too nice to be strictly phở! – but the range of soups is extensive, including lots of seafood soups from different parts of Vietnam

I opted with the rare beef phở, as readers will know it’s a personal favourite and the best indicator of quality, since you can see the cut of meat.

Firstly the cuts of meat were a little unimpressive, rather than chunks of thinly sliced raw beef that cook in the hot broth, the meat was thin slithers that were completely cooked by the time they arrived, and the quantity was a little ungenerous.

On top of the soup there were generous quantities of thinly sliced red onion, chopped coriander and fried shallots, the addition of the coriander was a good solid addition that I’d like to see more often.

The broth was light and transparent with a very mild flavour, beyond the beef and a bit of coriander there was no key flavours, spices or herbs that really stood out, it wasn’t wrong it was just a bit boring.

Sides included fresh bean sprouts and basil, with a miserable looking cut up chilli, however there were lots of interesting side condiments with several variations of chilli sauces to mix it up.

So how Thanh Nga Nine stack up on phở? Not very well, but it’s also not the reason to visit. We recommend leaving the phở to the professionals but it’s definitely worth a visit for a more diverse Vietnamese meal.

1. Stock: 2 – Bland with no distinguishing features.
2. Inside: 3 – The meat was disappointing but the onion and coriander on top was a nice touch.
3. On the side: 3 – Everything was fresh, chilli was a little miserable looking.
4. Extras: 3 – Good service, decent ambiance and you will be back time and time again but not for the phở.

Score: 11/20

Thanh Nga Nine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Co Do – Richmond

One of the finest Victoria Street has to offer

Pho Ga

Co Do - Victoria St

Pho Ga

Co Do has remained the one Vietnamese restaurant I’ve always been happy to cross town for, I’m not exactly sure why as it doesn’t do anything different, it just does everything really well. Also the sheer volume of unrelated friends and acquaintances that frequent Co Do is so disproportionately high that you know you are onto something special.This is a good place for a casual meal with friends for lunch and dinner but don’t expect too much ambiance as this place can get busy (and noisy) and is often packed with families.

The service here is significantly friendlier than pretty much any other Vietnamese restaurant on Victoria St or Footscray, the owner has the staff well trained and food ordering is prompt, friendly and efficient.

Co Do offers a full and diverse menu, pages and pages of all the Vietnamese classics, including all the usual soups and a few unique additions such as Hue style and several pork based stocks which are a break from the norms. The soups come in the usual 3 sizes Small $8, Medium $9 and Large $10.

I break tradition here and go the phở ga which is the chicken soup, not because the beef isn’t excellent (it is), I just think they do the chicken so incredibly well. The chicken fillet is completely bone free and is cooked to perfection; thickly sliced the quantity is suitably generous.

The chicken stock is very transparent and quite sweet, probably due to the vegetables its been cooked with, the flavour is quite unique and doesn’t taste like European chicken soup which adds to its charm.

The garnish on top of the soup is a combination of finely sliced red onion, spring onion and dried shallots which adds a little bit of crunch to the overall soup texture.

The sides are all fresh: bean sprouts, basil and wedges of lemon, with finely sliced chilli already on the table in a container (which I’m usually not in favour of as it reduces the hotness throughout the day).
The range of sauces is comprehensive including chilli sauce and oil, hoisin, soy and fish sauce, you won’t be disappointed.

A visit to Co Do won’t deliver you anything unique, but it will offer one of the most solid examples of Vietnamese food in Melbourne.

1. Stock: 4 – Sweet and transparent.
2. Inside: 5 – Perfect cut and quantity of chicken, the garnish adds a little something.
3. On the side: 3 – Everything was fresh, but pre-cut chilli was a big no-no.
4. Extras: 4 – Good service and amazing tea, but light on ambiance due to it being popular, I know I’ll be back.

Score: 16/20

Address :196 Victoria St
Richmond, VIC 3121

Co Do Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Phở Chu The – Footscray

PHO CHU THE

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A consistent contributor to Hopkins Street

I must have walked past Phở  Chu The a thousand times and never thought to walk in. It’s another rather non-descript phở  joint on Hopkins Street in Footscray sandwiched between other non-descript phở joints located across from the Footscray markets and a short stroll to the train station. This is one that’s yet to be colonised by the phở tourists (in Footscray anyway), and I was glad to tick it off the list even if it’s not a complete winner for beef phở.

The owner started Phở Chu The almost 30 years ago, so it’s certainly got tons of cred and even more heritage which has enabled it to expand into several locations throughout Melbourne.The décor has all the markings of a Footscray Vietnamese restaurant: fish tank, waving lucky cats, ugly tiles and lots of mirrors coupled with expected rushed service.

The menu is comfortably limited as one would expect with a specialist phở  restaurant. Leave the vegos at home since you can choose from chicken or beef with a selection of extras (brisket, tripe, ox tail, beef balls, and a raft of other chicken parts), all available in 3 sizes (small $9, medium $10 and large $11).

I ordered the medium rare beef phở , a personal favorite, and a good benchmark to measure the quality of meat and clarity of the stock. The soup is served with finely sliced rings of fresh Spanish onion, spring onion and coriander on top – the Spanish onion is a favourite simple touch to mix up a classic.

The beef is cut thicker than usual, which poses a bit of a problem as the meat doesn’t cook through while sitting in the hot soup, so it’s quite raw. The first time I experienced this I put it down to a lack of patience on my part, but the second time I realised it was actually that the slices were too thick. While a rare beef phở eater is used to a bit of pink in the meat, this was a step up from ‘mooing’ and even with time it didn’t cook through properly.

The stock on the other hand is excellent, with bonus points for being consistently good each time. It was slightly cloudy and had medium levels of salt and a sort of extra meaty flavor, possibly explained by something else added to the pot.

They had all the usual suspects on the side: hoisin, chilli sauce and oil. In the fresh department, they serve bean shoots, basil, lemon and extra rings of finely sliced Spanish onion, which is a bonus. The freshly cut chilli was in a container as opposed to the side of a plate, which I’m not in favour of as it kills the hotness.

Pho Chu The has the heritage and the backing of the locals but I’m not sure it really stacks up compared to some of the other places. If you are looking for something new try it out, but don’t expect anything particular different.

  1. Stock: 4 – Really great flavour, but might be a bit strong for some people.
  2. Inside: 2 – Nice cuts of meat, but too thick to cook properly gets scored down.
  3. On the side: 3 – Everything was fresh, but pre-cut chilli was a big no-no.
  4.  Extras: 3 – Chopped onion, skinny noodles and decent tea, light on ambiance and I don’t think I’ll be back.

Score: 12/20

92 Hopkins Street, Footscray

03 9687 8265

http://phochuthe.com/

Pho Chu The on Urbanspoon

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

13/20

Address:

131 Nicholson Street Footscray, VIC

03 9041 2607

Pho Ta on Urbanspoon

Quang Minh Temple – Braybrook

 Noodle Soup

Heaven for Vegetarians

It would be true to say that Quang Minh Temple in Braybrook, located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, offers nothing short of a religious and cultural experience. A Buddhist temple for a large community of Vietnamese Buddhists, every Sunday it opens its gates for those seeking enlightenment or perhaps a culinary mini-break. We come for the latter.

In a food hall, which feels like a school gymnasium set up with endless rows of trestle tables and small plastic stools, vats of phở so big you can almost bathe in them are bubbling away. The atmosphere is bustling and the operation is an efficient production line. All you need to decide is how hungry you are. When you’re ready, line up, chose your size (small $6; large $8), pay, get a ticket, move along and hand it to the service lady and bingo, there is your steaming, fresh bowl made up right in front you on a tray.

Small and large bowls of ingredients lay waiting, when you hand over your ticket, the stock is poured onto the contents and topped with a large hand full of chopped iceberg lettuce and bean sprouts. Forget sauces, tea or table service, it’s up to you to pick up your cutlery from a self-service area and you have the option of super-hot fresh chilli and/or lemon. Go easy on the chilli, it really is fiery.

Not knowing what type of phở will be served on the day is a major draw card for those who like surprises. The offering changes every week and being part of a Buddhist temple, the best part is it’s all 100% vegetarian and very occasionally not vegan – sometimes there are egg noodles. We’ve never been disappointed, it’s always mouth watering.

This week they served the Hu Tieu Nam Vangwhich translates as Phnom Penh in Vietnamese – a light brown, clear, flavour-packed broth with a characteristic sweetness served with fried tofu skins, cashews, oyster mushrooms and ‘sausage’ plus square, chewy tapioca noodles. Tapioca noodles are an interesting change from the standard flat rice and they don’t go soft and soggy. This soup is a symphony, the various vegetables that make up the stock dance in tune on your palate. There is no flavour sacrifice, it may be vegetarian, but this is that will satisfy the carnivores.

But in the event that it doesn’t, stroll through the small undercover market on your way out and pick up a steamed bun, some faux chicken nuggets or fried ‘calamari’. Feeling like something sweet? How about a pandan waffle or three-colour drink? If you’re lucky the man selling the sugar cane drinks will be there too. You can also do your fruit and veg shopping.

Quang Minh Temple is not exactly conveniently located, unless you live in Braybrook, but it offers everything we’re looking for in the perfect mini-break: a touch of the exotic, excellent, cheap food and friendly people. It is a must for any phở-devotee. And for the vegetarians, it’s doesn’t get any better than this.

Stock: 5 – the Hi Tieu stock is unique, a little bit sweet and has tons of flavour, which can be a challenge when you’re going vegetarian

Inside: 5 – this isn’t the standard vego boiled vegetables plus tofu offering, it’s like a Kinder Surprise with fried tofu skin, mushrooms and ‘sausage’

On the side: 4 – chilli is fresh and fiery hot, the lemon delivers an additional tang, lettuce and sprouts are added by the server, so technically not on the side, one point lost for limited ability to customise

Extras: 3 – tapioca noodles are fantastic, there are no tea or condiments, but we are devout followers will continue to be back

Score: 17/20

Address:

18 Burke St, Braybrook VIC 3019

(03) 9312 5729

Every Sunday 10am to 2pm

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