Phở Victoria – North Melbourne

A quality phở oasis

1_vic 3_vic 4_vic IMG_7694

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

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

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

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