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.
- Stock: 4 – Really great flavour, but might be a bit strong for some people.
- Inside: 2 – Nice cuts of meat, but too thick to cook properly gets scored down.
- On the side: 3 – Everything was fresh, but pre-cut chilli was a big no-no.
- Extras: 3 – Chopped onion, skinny noodles and decent tea, light on ambiance and I don’t think I’ll be back.
92 Hopkins Street, Footscray
03 9687 8265