The service is good (I notice people on some sites complain that the service is rude here, we haven't found that to be the case. It's possibly not the friendliest, but they are quick, and that's what I call service). The place is clean and most of all the phố is really good.
How do you pronounce phố? Well I've heard it pronounced like fee, fi, fo, fum, this is incorrect. I've looked it up and by all accounts it looks as though 'fah' is something near it.
I think for Westerners, if you went to swear and pulled up before anyone could be certain what you were going to say, without the ck part, this is on the knocker.
There's a variety of ways to eat phố, it comes out piping hot, coupled with a plate full of raw beanshoots, Thai basil and finely chopped chilli. There is a little tub of raw onion on the table, a bottle of chilli sauce, a bottle of hoisin sauce and a stainless steel sugar bowl, which is full of chilli with seeds in oil.
Now, I load up with the fresh Thai basil, and a few drops of the chilli sauce, I don't like to stray too far from the original flavour. My partner and I, we both have the beef and chicken, but there are many other varieties. She likes the Thai basil, but she puts in a lot more chilli sauce, and lots of bean shoots too, then we don't hear much from each other as we scoop out the rice noodles with chop sticks, and alternate with the spoon to have the soup.
Years ago I used to go to Footscray, when the Vietnamese were first starting to introduce their variations on Asian foods. They had restaurants along Barkly and Hopkins streets, there were several of them. I think they used to call them just soups, or maybe I didn't notice their words to describe them.
They would have blackboards along the walls with all the different types of soups chalked on. I used to stick to chicken and beef ones.
I mainly went to them for the spring rolls and I tentatively tried the soups as well as that was all there was. I did like them, particularly on one occasion, when they chopped up all these fresh herbs - and the taste was out of this world. I went back quite a few times but I never got that same sprinkling of raw fresh herbs floating on top again.
Fresh and tasty. Image Credit: Jael (Wikimedia Commons)
I got a good review about this place and we went in once, sat down, but we couldn't figure out the menu, so we left. This was when we revisited phố. I'd introduced my partner to a lot of new foods she hadn't tried before as she is from the country. I tried her on phố when she first came down, but she didn't want a bar of it. Several years later and she can't get enough of them.
Maybe a month later, my partner's son said he wanted to take us out for a phố. We arranged to meet outside the restaurant in the city. We were waiting outside for a while and it dawned on us that this was the 'Mekong' we'd already been to without eating anything, only a month earlier.
The place was packed with students, this tells you straight away the food is good and cheap. We weren't disappointed, even though it was full, the service was good and it wasn't long before our meals arrived. We had the same chicken and beef phố, so it was a good comparison.
This really is only a whisker below Hung Vuong.
241 Swanston Street Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 3288
My last recommendation is;
3. Chi Chi
It's a phố, phố better thing that I have done. (Wikipedia Commons)
This restaurant is not in the usual places you expect to get a phố - it's in Nidrie. We frequented this place and never really even thought to order a phố.
The food is pretty good across the board, we usually order our favourites. One time, we just happened to notice they had phố on the menu, so we tried it. Well it was pretty good, we really enjoyed it. It was only a fraction less than Mekong. On a different day, who knows it may be the best.
403 Keilor Road, Niddrie VIC 3042
(03) 9374 4266
Thanks for your article highlighting your 3 favourite places for phở.
However, I need to point out that the word you used for the noodle soup is phố (which means "city" or "street" in Vietnamese) is incorrect. The correct word is phở.
And the pronunciation, I would say the closest to the English word would be "fur" without any curling of the tongue at the end. So ít's like "fuh".
Sorry to be picky, but "phố" is not something you want to put in your mouth. :)