The most famous Vietnamese dish outside Vietnam is of course, the Vietnamese beef noodle, or pho (pronounce as “fe-eh”). This is likely the first dish most people think about when it comes to Vietnamese food, and for good reasons – it is accessible, delicious, and uses ingredients familiar with most other cuisines.
Pho Cao Van, at District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
There are in fact, two slightly different types of pho, one originated from Saigon/HCMC, and another from the Hanoi, a distance of over 1100 KM away. While both soup stock utilizes beef & beef bone as a major component, the Southern version also incorporate a stronger presence of aroma from fish sauce. In a way, pho from HCMC is the one you usually get, especially outside Vietnam.
the traditional way is to give you way too much vege
Pho Cao Van at Mac Dinh Chi road, however, is one of the few places that serves traditional Northern style pho at Saigon. At 40,000 VND and above per bowl, it is certainly one of the more expensive pho options out there, but also one of the more “authentic” versions there is.
squeeze the lemon, and dip those tendon in the chili sauce
I ordered a bowl with nothing but beef tendon (partly due to my failure in Vietnamese sign language, but no regrets), accompanied by a huge portion of fresh vegetable in which there is no way you can actually finish. The soup was light yet full of flavor from boiling beef bone over long hours. The tendon, melt in your mouth. It was absolutely lovely and not hard to see why this particular shop gets a steady stream of customers despite being rather shabby in appearance and yet charges a slight premium over others.
If you’re at Ho Chi Minh City, or anywhere else in Vietnam, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of pho, whichever versions it may be.
Address: Phở Cao Vân 25 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam GPS: 10.784681, 106.699296 Hours: 6 am to 10:30 pm
Vietnam is the country I traveled to the most times thanks to my previous job, and while I don’t miss that role too much, one thing that I’ve always missed was some awesome Vietnamese cuisine, which seems to be living in Thai food’s shadow when it comes to offerings from South East Asia.
Over the last few years though, it has starting to make headrooms, perhaps in parallel of the country’s economic expansion, definitely a good thing for those of us who loves variety.
Pho Vietz at Atria Shopping Gallery, almost always packed
One of the latest Vietnamese restaurant that is fast gaining popularity is Pho Vietz at Atria (and now also at Empire Mall Subang). The place is almost perpetually packed, and it’s not difficult to see why, they serve pretty good food in a modern and comfortable setting while being reasonable in price.
Most importantly, it is also one of the very few proper Vietnamese restaurant that offers pork.
traditional spring role, baguette, banh mi
The menu is pretty extensive, there’s snacks such as spring roles, banh mi (baguette), several types of pho, vermicelli, ho fun, and different rice plates with curry, pork/beef stew, and clay pot dishes.
We’ve been to the place twice and tried several of their dishes. The prawn role (RM 8.50) was decent but I found the skin a bit too tough for my liking.
Banh Mi, or baguette (RM 9.90 or 10.90) with pork was an absolute treat with really crispy exterior and soft, airy bread within. It is like Subway but twice as good, especially if you love the mixture of yummy pork and those slightly sweetish sauce with plenty of vegetable. You can also have the baguette separately to go with beef stew (RM 17.90).
pho, stew beef with baguette, spring role with vermicelli
The standard pho (RM 17.90) here had a good soup base and pretty fresh, delicious slices of beef. We asked for more basil and bean sprouts and the restaurant gladly supplied a full plate of greens. That being said, I wished they had beef tendon though.
For those who wants even more greens, the Vietnamese Spring Role Vermicelli (RM 14.90) will not disappoint. There’s basil, mint, cucumber, carrot, bean sprout, and all sorts of healthy bits in the bowl.
caramel sliced pork belly with rice, KY, Haze, Johnson
On my second visit, I had the Caramel Sliced Pork Belly with Rice (RM 19.90) which quickly turned out to be one of my favorites. The “3 layer” belly was properly marinated and perfectly cooked, it was rather strong tasting so finishing the whole bowl of rice is a definite plus. If you’re a pork lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this.
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food, this is definitely a decent hang-out, just don’t go there during peak lunch/dinner hours and expect to have your food served quickly (or get a table immediately for that matter).
Those who have been reading this blog for some time might realise that pho is one of my favorite foods of all time. My love for this simple Vietnamese noodle dish started from my year long stint in Northern Virginia, and later re-enforced from the 9 trips to Vietnam that I made in my previous job.
pho Dzung is located in Richmond, VIC
During my previous visit to Melbourne, I visited the very popular Mekong Vietnamese Restaurant right on Swanston Street. While it was pretty good, at least a couple readers commented that the best pho is found in Richmond, the Vietnamese community that is located just a few kilometers away from Melbourne CBD.
So on this second trip to Melbourne, I looked up online and found this Pho Dzung place at Richmond that is said to be one of the bests in this part of the world.
coagulated cow’s blood and Vietnamese spring roll
Mellissa and I took a train from Melbourne Central to North Richmond and walked a few hundred meter to the east on Victoria Street, passing quite a number of other Vietnamese and Asian restaurants, fresh seafood shops, and Asian grocers before reaching no. 208.
At 3pm, Pho Dzung was still packed with people to the point where we had to be seated upstairs. It was definitely the correct place to be.
special beef combination pho with plenty of basil leaves and bean sprouts
The menu is rather simple, rice noodle soup with the usual suspects: rare beef, tripe, brisket, tendon, cartilage, meat ball, chicken, and even beef pizzle (yes, beef penis!).
Mell ordered a bowl of beef pho ($7 for small) and I went for the beef combination, we also asked for a plate of deep fried Vietnamese spring roll to share.
Right after I made my order, I spotted coagulated ox blood ($1) on the menu, so of course, I asked for that. The waiter asked if I actually wanted a bowl of ox blood in liquid form, but that would have been a bit too intense for my liking.
we had a very satisfying lunch
The spring rolls were quite small in size but certainly not lacking in taste, crunchy on the outside and flavorful on the inside, a perfect way to open up the appetite. The coagulated blood though, was not as tasty as the pork or duck version I enjoy in Penang curry mee and kueh teow soup, but not bad nonetheless.
As for the beef noodle, the soup was simple excellent. The aromatic beef stock was sweet and to be frank, one of the bests I’ve had from anywhere. If you find yourself in Melbourne, you have to give this place a try, easily the best $20 lunch for two at this part of the world.
Address: Pho Dzung Tan Dinh
208 Victoria St
Richmond 3121 VIC GPS: -37.81042,144.998181 Tel:03-9427 0292
Melbourne city is populated with a huge population of Asian, and as many other Western countries, a decent portion of those Asians are Vietnamese for obvious reasons if you’ve ever watched Nam: Tour of Duty (which also has the awesome title song – Paint it Black).
While Victoria Street north of Richmond, some 2km away from Central Business District has the most Vietnamese restaurants, there are quite a number of them right at the city center too, and none can be more famous than Mekong Vietnam at Swanston in CBD. I just had to go there since Mell was raving about it ever since I knew her.
so Bill Clinton had 2 bowls, I had one.
The restaurant is like many typical Asian outfits, with almost no effort spent in interior decoration, just lines of tables and chairs to maximize the number of patrons at any one time.
The one distinction at Mekong are the walls. Instead of low grade artworks, they have photos. Photos of many famous people who dined here, including Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and even Bill Clinton (the restaurant claims that the President had two bowls of pho)
there’s always free water or tea at restaurants
The menu is typical of many Vietnamese restaurants, with pho (rice noodle soup), cold spring rolls, hot spring rolls, rice, vermicelli, some sides, and drinks. The pho dishes are priced at $8 and $9 (big) while the most expensive vermicelli dishes (those with spring rolls and meat) at $11.50.
pho with beef and plenty of tendon, yums
As usual, I ordered a bowl of Pho with tendon, tripe, and brisket while Mell got the version with raw slice beef. We also had some free hot tea to go with the noodles, I love the fact that almost all restaurants will serve you either tea or water for free around here.
The soup was pretty mild at Mekong and the pho used was actually just the normal “kueh teow” type instead of the more traditional Vietnamese noodle that is slightly harder in texture. However, the tendon, tripe, and the meat were all very tender and juicy. The overall taste was actually rather good, especially after asking the server for more basil (as I usually do anywhere outside Vietnam).
we certainly enjoyed our pho
It was actually a very satisfying meal, warm soupy dishes with cold weather always go very well together. $18 for 2 person is also pretty cheap for a meal in the city short of fast food joints.
Mekong is just a block off QV and Melbourne Central
I had noticed this little Vietnamese Beef Noodle call Pho Hoa place at the Curve before this particular trip, and told Mell that we had to try this place before she left for Melbourne. So on Valentine’s day itself, a day where most couples were standing in line for hours at posher restaurants, we chose to take the opportunity to this place.
No queue there, only a few families and another an old couple who are probably married too many years to be worried about celebrating the overrated Valentine’s (I like the fact that Mell shares the same view with me on this).
a small setup tucked at the corner away from the main street at the Curve
I have been in Ho Chi Minh city many times in my previous job, and the one thing I miss the most about Vietnam is the beef noodle, or Pho.
Ever since I stopped going there, I had been visiting Vietnamese restaurants like O’Viet at Sunway Pyramid for try out their pho but most of the time the standards have been not good enough to worth a blog post.
On top of all, I can never find any place that serves pho with beef tendon (my favorite ingredient) until this one. I was so happy!
check out that glorious beef tendon!!
Like most restaurants at the Curve, Pho Hoa has an indoor as well as alfresco dining area. Interior decoration is pretty simple and uninspiring, but we were here purely for the food anyway, so it was all good.
The menu at Pho Hoa consist of the usual Vietnamese spring rolls, rice bowls, vermicelli bowls, and of course, the pho. The good thing here is the availability to create your own pho according to your choice of ingredients: brisket, a few types of flanks, steak, tendon, and tripe.
I ordered mine with steak, tripe, and a lot of tendon while Mell went for the basic.
KY & Mell and a cup of Vietnamese coffee
The tendon was very soft and tender, just the way it should be. The soup too was rather tasty. Being a true pho lover, I even asked for more basil and mint leaves from the Vietnamese waiter (always a good sign). It was one of the more satisfying bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle I’ve had for a while.
I also had their very strong Vietnamese drip coffee (cafe da), something you should order unless you plan to sleep in the next 6 hours.
The bill came up to less than RM 40 with the two bowls of noodle at RM 15.99 and RM 11.99, definitely within a very good value for the food I had. I’m thinking of having this tomorrow for lunch this weekend!
Address: Pho Hoa
G34, the Curve,
PJ, 40870 Selangor GPS:3.157699, 101.611540 Tel: 03-7725 9880