Archive for 10 August 2009

In seach of pho

In recovery from a nasty tummy bug, all I wanted when I woke on Saturday was pho.

it doesn't look like much, but it is something truly special

For those who haven’t tried it, pho [pronounced something like “fu-u-uh” – I was told to curl the ‘uh’ sound, like a mini verbal rollercoaster] is a delicate, clear Vietnamese noodle soup that is refreshing and warming at once. It distils the very essence of its components into a cleansing elixir of pure goodness. And that definition does not do it the justice it deserves.

The last Vietnamese restaurant at which I had the pleasure of dining was Nhat Tan in Sydney. I was served an excellent introduction to pho – and ignorant me called it “vegetable noodle soup” at the time, which it is, only way, way better.

Now I discover that pho production is a revered industry all of its own, involving secret recipes and master stocks and dead bodies in alleyways. I made that last bit up, btw. Though I am sure many professional establishments guard their recipes closely, there are many and varied recipes to be found online/in cookbooks – such as the detailed example from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, via Viet World Kitchen. [Incidentally, one of my friends is visiting Vietnam very soon and I am hoping to have an authentic pho recipe in my hot little hands within mere months…]

I hadn’t eaten much Vietnamese food in Perth, save for rice paper rolls, which are an addiction, so I set out to find a restaurant online. I had heard of Viet Hoa in Northbridge and To To in Victoria Park, but I went for Simply Pho (Unit 2/305-309 William St, Northbridge – ph: 9328 6895) because of its name. It’s what they do so it had to be good, right?

the Simply Pho facade

With a still-weak stomach, I thought it best to go vegetarian for the day, starting with the rice paper rolls I ordered for entree. They looked good but were not the greatest I had tasted; I looked forward to the main event.

the cold rolls were nothing special

From the first mouthful, my main meal hit the spot beautifully. This huge bowl of steaming soup was almost exactly what I felt like: if I had been given just the clear broth, with some of the add-your-own lemon, mint and sliced chilli, I would have blissed out. The noodles and vegetables tasted fresh and delicious, but the broth was awesome. The bowl was so big that I could not finish my order. I did drain the bowl of as much precious liquid as I could, however.

As I was leaving, I noticed merchandise and, lacking sufficient sets of chopsticks at home, I bought four pairs of chopsticks with paua shell inlays and holders. I was satisfied with my $10 purchase and can’t wait to try them out.

The service at Simply Pho was pleasant and prompt, and I felt that the $14 I paid for my meal ($9 for the pho by itself) was very reasonable indeed. I would recommend the vegetable pho to anyone wanting a wholesome, simple meal and it’s certainly large enough to satisfy without any additions.

Incidentally, on my way to Simply Pho I passed many a good-looking Vietnamese restaurant. I can now see myself eating my way down William Street in search of Northbridge’s best pho, beginning next weekend. This is a flavour sensation I could eat all the time.

I absolutely understand how the Vietnamese can start their morning with this dish and eat it continuously through each day.

10 August 2009 at 1:30pm 8 comments


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