Located at 234 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD this absolute gem of a Vietnamese restaurant is my new destination for the ultimate pho.
One gloomy overcast day, during lunch hour at work my search for a suitable lunch venue brought me to the doorstep of the Pho Dzung. Slightly skeptical and nervous, I gently pushed open the glass door of this unpretentious restaurant and stepped into the cosy interior as the lovely aroma of Pho tickled my nostrils and kindled my hunger.
The first glimpse of the interior informed me immediately that this restaurant has a loyal clientele with most tables being occupied. The walls of the restaurant are decorated with a wide array of lit-up, colourful pictures of all that is on offer at this small and busy restaurant.
One of the many waiters clad in black uniform waved at me from a distance. Once I requested a table for two, I was gently ushered to a corner table eagerly awaiting new customers and was handed a menu.
Once seated we found our seats comfy and our table nicely stacked with a diverse range of sauces, separate holders for chopsticks, spoons and tissues. Tentatively, I ran my eyes down the menu and found myself lost for options with dishes like sliced braised brisket, grilled pork on rice vermicelli, braised beef fat, special chicken combination, rice paper roll with prawns & chicken or vegetarian and so forth. The menu enticed me with an amazing listing of both meat and vegetarian options. I found the prices to be reasonable with each item being priced from $8.50 to $10.90.
Finding myself struggling to make selections from the wide range of dishes on the menu, I settled for a small sliced chicken soup while my friend ordered a small crispy skin chicken with egg noodle soup. Immediately after taking the order, the waiter gingerly placed on the table a plate full of bean shoots, chopped red chilli, slices of lemon and mint leaves. Our orders followed.
My steamy soup was very traditional, beautifully presented and topped with gorgeous Asian greens. Imitating my friend, I sprinkled the mint leaves, chilli and lemon juice on the soup. Later some chilli sauce along with soy sauce were added to the soup and stirred gently with chopsticks. Taking a spoon I tasted the exquisite looking soup for the very first time. The effect was an instant warm glow of satisfaction illuminating my soul while warming my body. I eagerly took another mouthful and the only word that engulfed my mind was 'delicious', simply delicious. I found the chicken slices to be chunky and soft with a nice texture. The combination of mint, lemon, chilli, and Asian greens with hot soup can only be defined in the most positive light: excellent and lip-smacking.
My friend's crispy skin chicken with egg noodle soup turned out to have chunky pieces of beautifully done chicken in a pool of egg noodles and delectable soup. Despite being smaller versions of the soups, the servings were very filling.
Crispy skin chicken with egg noodle soup (sparky2012)
What this restaurant lacks in décor, it more than adequately makes up for with wonderful food at a cheap price. The servings are generous and the food is cooked fresh. The meat is soft and juicy, the noodles are perfectly boiled and the soup is cooked just right.
Service is prompt, polite and friendly and you can request extra chilli, lemon or bean shoots without incurring extra expense. Another highlight of the place is the brilliant flexibility. You can choose to add the lot: mint leaves, bean shoots, lemon, sauces or you can pick and add selective items to your soup. Savour your soup as it is or spice it up by enriching it with all the extras. Tailor your soup to your taste and preference and devour it to the last bit.
It is worth noting that the prime location of the restaurant means that it is easily accessible by foot, trams (right next door), trains (5 minutes of walk from the Parliament station) and car (plenty of parking lots around). Open 7 days, from 9am to 10pm this restaurant has its doors open for you to enjoy some Pho any day.
Healthy, delicious and cheap, the food in this restaurant hits all the right spots.
Whether on an office lunch or enjoying a day out with family and friends, Pho Dzung is there to serve you top notch Pho any day of the week.