One can barely walk a block in the CBD without coming across an eatery that does not serve pho (pronounced fuh).
Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup typically served with chicken, beef or seafood and can be personalised with mint leaves, Vietnamese basil, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, fresh chilli and lime. Up until recently, one had to make a trip to Victoria St, Footscray or Preston to grab a bowl but now pho is available for lunch or dinner in many places in the city. With a price range of $8.00 – $11.50, it is also an affordable option.
Craig Birchall who owns Pho 24 on Little Bourke St attributes pho’s popularity to its simple preparation and yet complex flavours. “It is a healthy alternative to sandwiches, chips, sushi among others,” he said. Craig believes it is a food trend that is here to stay especially with Vietnam being a popular travel destination. At Pho 24, the cooking method used is sous vide (under vacuum) for 24 hours with pho spices making the soup delicious.
Pho is also a perfect hearty winter soup that combines proteins, carbohydrates and fresh herbs – an all in one meal. Jerry Mai who has set up Pho Nom in the Emporium shares that the essence of good pho is in the broth. “We cook 140 litres stock for 20-24 hours and reduce it to 70-80 litres. The aromatic stock is made from Warialda beef bones and marrow.” What distinguishes a good pho from a not so good one is the produce that goes into the broth, time it is simmered for and the seasoning.”
I love Pho on Victoria St, Pho & Co on Russell St, Misschu on Exhibition St, Mekong Pho on Swanston St, Pho 102 Saigon on Little Collins St, Roll’d on William St, are some of other venues in the CBD that offer the comfort soup for the soul.