You have no idea how I have been craving pho since leaving Melbourne. I simply could not find pho of equal standard. I went to the ‘best’ Vietnamese restaurant in Adelaide and it was thoroughly disappointing and overpriced. I went to the ‘best’ Vietnamese restaurant in Perth and it came pretty close but the service and layout of the restaurant was designed to appeal to the yuppies that breeze through at lunchtime.
I was back in Melbourne briefly for a friend’s wedding and it was time to get dirty. The lovely ladies at Hollywood Nails that did my mani pedi were Vietnamese and I asked, “where is the best place for pho in the south east?”
After a few minutes of deliberation, the response was Thuan Kieu. I was puzzled, “You’re welcome?”
The next Monday, Dave and I organised to have lunch with dad and I know how much he loves a good pho with all the offal trimmings so Thuan Kieu was put in the itinerary. However, when we arrived, we walked into Thuan Phu instead of Thuan Kieu… simple mistake, right?
Thuan Phu is a humble little restaurant in a very small shopping centre in Springvale South. They have the typical set up with chairs and tables (der), a brightly coloured paint job and fluoro chop sticks to match. The menu was a little surprising – lots of Chinese options with only a beef pho section (no chicken). Doesn’t matter! Dad ordered the beef pho with the lot, I just got plain beef and Dave got the egg noodle soup with BBQ pork. We also ordered a plate of rice paper rolls to share.
All the garnishes came out first – bean shoots, lemon, herbs and fresh chilli with a dishlette of peanut sauce for the rolls. The rolls were fresh and delicious, but the real winner was the sauce! Not too sweet or sickly – the perfect balance of savoury sweetness and smooth texture. With half the sauce left once the rice paper rolls were done, Dad got the spoon out and finished it off.
The soup was next. Dad’s pho had a variety of guts hanging out of it, but I’m sure it tasted delicious, just like mine. Finally – real, flavoursome, clean pho! The broth wasn’t too oily, salty, cloudy or tasteless, and the noodles were fresh and soft. More beef would have been good; even some slices of brisket, but all in all, my craving was satisfied.
Dave was thoroughly impressed with his soup – a very tasty broth with slices of tender BBQ pork.
I walked out of Thuan Phu a happy woman. Dad must have been happy too because he is notorious for complaining when we go out for a meal – “I can cook this at home?!… What is this shit?… it’s so small/expensive”.
None of that here… satisfaction all round! Next time, we’ll try Thuan Kieu…