I'm a sometime fiction writer living in Western Sydney and looking for fun and interesting things to spend my weekends on.
Published April 28th 2014
This is one of my favourite Pho (pronounced 'fuh') restaurants in Sydney. It's a little gem in the heart of Cabramatta where you can get the best Pho in Sydney. Allegedly. I'm not enough of an expert to say but I can tell you it is pretty good.
On a weekend, much like Cabramatta itself, Pho 54 gets busy and you might have to queue for a table. It's never a long wait though. This weekend, Miss CK and I were lucky enough to find it surprisingly quiet and got a table straight away.
Thai basil, sprouts, satay, chilli and lemon
For the uninititated, pho is a soupy dish, garnished with onion, spring onion and coriander, served over rice noodles and your choice of beef or chicken. Each dish is served with thai basil, fresh chilli, bean sprouts, lemon and satay.
We sat down and ordered our usual; rare beef and beef balls for me and a small "special" for Miss CK, which, as far as I can tell, has beef plus all the other bits of the cow they don't use in normal food.
While we wait, we pluck the basil leaves to go in the soup, which comes out in about 5 minutes flat. The soup is always ready, simmering away in the kitchen (the longer it's been there the better) so service is pretty quick.
There's no real etiquette to eating pho, you can slurp away and spill all you like and you won't be frowned upon. My preferred way to eat is to chuck in some basil leaves and bean sprouts, then take my satay and scoop it all into the bowl along with a couple of slices of fresh chilli and a squeeze of lemon juice with a dash of hoi sin and chilli sauce. Then I go straight at the soup, slurping away with one hand while cramming noodles and beef into my face with the other.
Other people prefer to keep their satay on the side for dipping and concentrate on the noodle and meat part. I've even seen people leave the soup almost entirely, which, in my opinion, is the best bit!
Pho 54 is a family-owned restaurant, working tirelessly and ceaselessly to bring you the best pho at the best price. Two dishes will run you less than $20 and it's satisfying and filling. They serve other meals but the menu is all in vietnamese so you'd pretty much be playing restaurant russian roulette.
Don't be put off by Pho 54's low-key decor, while it's not really a restaurant to sit and hang out at (although I have seen people at a similar restaurant in Marrickville stroll in with a bottle of wine or six pack of beer), this place is designed purely to sit you down, serve you your food and get you out. If you want to linger, you can always head up to nearby Moochi for frozen yoghurt or Meet Fresh for a Taiwanese ice and jelly dessert.
And if you like your coffee you have to try a Vietnamese Milk Coffee. It consists of condensed milk, ice and coffee and goes well with the hot pho, especially if you've added the extra chilli. For a total of $21.50 for two people and a drink that's value you can't beat. So next time you find yourself in the vicinity of Cabramatta, be sure and stop in. You can't miss it, it's on 54 Park Road in Freedom Plaza, right near the giant turtle.