Monday, September 5, 2011

Pho Chu The - (Melbourne)

  The sad reality about the much hyped about Vietnamese Pho dish especially when comparing between Hong Kong and Melbourne/Australia for instance,  is that you can really struggle to find a decent one in HK,  whereas on the other side of the hemisphere,  Pho bowls in Melbourne are also a much beloved & affordable noodles dish and with the many Vietnamese immigrants here, you’ll hope and expect that it is to be of top quality.   Even Mr Choi Lam 蔡瀾, a very famous food critic in HK and Asia has once proclaimed Richmond’s PHO DZUNG TAN DINH (勇記河粉) to be amongst the best in the world!   Except, he probably also shot himself in the foot by mentioning in the next sentence that Vlado’s steak is one of the best in Melbourne,  which is probably 25 years behind the trend, as Melbourne’s steak houses have improved tremendously during this whole time in the past 10-15 years.    Although I do agree with him that Flower Drums is still pretty decent for a Cantonese restaurant by international standards!


The Old Shop we used to patron -
Pho Chu The is found on the other side along the same street as Pho Dzung Tan Dinh in Richmond, and here is voted by many local Melbournians to be one of the best in town. Without any prior prejudice or bias, I decided to tackle this shop to see what it is about. It’s not my first time visiting here but after having tried out a few more shops internationally and now that it has moved a few shops down the road, I was really keen to give here another test! There are at least a few other suburbs in Victoria containing many Pho shops counting upwards of 20+, serving very similar quality from what I can recall. Some are to be found in remote suburbs such as Springvale, Footscray, St Albans, or even the City or Box Hill, and also Richmond right here today.



It has now relocated a few stores down -
So looking forward to retrying here…


Chili Paste and Chili -
The Chili paste is very addictive.  It is almost a ubiquitous found in most Vietnamese restaurants or Pho dedicated shops in Melbourne.

Three Colored Drink (Che 3 Mau) -
Filled with some candied colored jellies and red beans,
this was to me a little weak in coconut taste.   ~  6/10



Bean Sprouts,  Thai Basil and Lemon -
Without any Culantro herb (鵝蒂),  which is nowhere to be found in Melbourne so far,  this was never going to be a perfectly authentic Pho.   Logistics and availability of this herb aside,  this should also came with lime rather than lemon wedges.    Just like Mexican food,  lemon does not substitute for lime in my personal opinion.  At least today, the single variety of Thai Basil available wasn’t bruised…   And there was no sign of the other necessary herb in a proper pho, 毛翁 to be seen, but apologies as I have no idea how to translate this!   ~   5/10


Pho 26, Hong Kong -
This Pho from Hong Kong is way too inconsistent to my liking, 
but at least there is a good beef bone taste,  a bit of spices in the background,  as well as proper herbs like Culantro and 毛翁 to be found.  Which by the way,  there is only 1 shop in Hong Kong which supplies these according to my knowledge.   I’ve had better Pho in Paris!



Pho Dac Biet -  (Pho Bo soup)
A proper pho is said to be really well balanced between all components from soup to meat flavours and the herbal influence.   The soup today seemed a little weak and overly sweet,  and it was lacking the necessary roasted beef bones flavour but mostly of chicken stock, or the slightly 5 spiced and cassia influence.  Here it was not bad,  but deprived of it’s layers of complexities.    Pho Dzung Tan Dinh down the road is definitely better than here in this respect despite the similar lacking of some essential herbs not found locally.   ~   6.5/10

Pho Dac Biet special,  comes with some white bleached Beef Tripes, 
from the 3rd stomach of the cow (omasum).


Beef -
This is hand sliced and pretty decent,  but is missing some finely sliced beef for a pho.  There are also beef balls, beef briskets,  beef tendons in this bowl.   A nice spread of varieties.


Surprisingly -
A lot of the customers here are non-Asians.   Interesting!
A not too shabby pho,  but honestly I had expected more from a few personal criterias, but perhaps it is only me being too fussy with Pho !




Price: AUD $10-15 per person
Food:  ♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours -
Mon- Sun    10am - 10pm

Address: 264 Victoria St, Richmond 3121 , Melbourne, Australia
Ph: (03) 9428 5995

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