Pho Cyclo Café – Seattle

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In contrast to New Saigon, ‘Pho Cyclo’, was very much a Pho destination. Hip, western style, large open space with plenty of kids and a mixed and diverse crowd, ambiance is best described as “courtyard within a café, inside a building on a gentrifying strip” (quite the mouthful).

The menu is based around Pho, but also contains some other rice and noodle dishes. Pho is amusingly categorised between ‘Pho Novice’ and ‘Pho Master’ and the range is significant including vegetarian options. Pho master covers more traditional but less western ingredients e.g. tripe, tendons, fatty flank, while novice is variations of the more ‘comfortable cuts’, brisket, thinly sliced chicken, sausage etc.

On the side was the typical range of sauces; Chilli, Soy, Hoisin and Sambal along with a strange spicy fish sauce which was sweet and red and had plenty of lemongrass in it.

I consider myself a Pho master, but opted for the beef pho with sliced beef and fatty brisket a classic that lends itself to ‘global comparisons’.

The sides where really fresh basil and bean sprouts along with massive Jalapenos, and they were delivered with my Pepsi in a glass along with tea in a metal pot.

The bowl was massive and the meat was plentiful, with spring onion on the topic, rice noodles were thin and almost square. If there is one thing about American restaurants they are generous when it comes to providing quantity, I was please to see this was not at the expense of quality.

The broth was rich and strong in flavour and colour, it’s rare to encounter a such great stock that it doesn’t actually require any additional condiments and sauces to enhance the flavours.

This didn’t unfortunately extend to the vegetarian option, which was fairly weak in flavour but did include mushrooms, oyster mushroom stems, carrot, broccoli and tofu.

Overall an excellent Pho experience, if I was a local I’d be back for sure.

Stock: 5 – Rich stock and no sauces required
Inside: 5 – Generous quantities of meat and decent cut
On the side: 4 – Everything was fresh
Extras: 4 – great space, but poor vegetarian option, good tea
Score: 18/20
Pho Cyclo Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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