Victoria Street Richmond is somewhere I only venture with a recommendation. There are just too many restaurants to choose from and life’s too short to be eating bad pho.
My most reliable source of Vietnamese food recommendations is my Vietnamese friend J, a prolific eater-outerer and an excellent home cook. Since she got a car she’s switched her allegiances to Footscray but when she does eat out in Richmond she heads to Pho Chu The.
This Victoria Street stalwart is very popular with bloggers, restaurant reviewers and as the Wall of Fame in their brand new restaurant shows, David Chang (of Momofuku fame and according to the pasted-up article, he said it was some of the best pho he’d eaten).
Unlike many Asian restaurants, the menu isn’t the wide-ranging ‘let’s-have-a-go-at-anything’ tome. There’s just a short list of noodle options on the wall, with a similarly short list of drinks on the other side of the blackboard. There are no prices indicated, but that’s because it’s reliably cheap – a bowl of beef pho costs $9.
The limited choices are a good indicator that the pho is good. If it wasn’t, the restaurant would be out of business by now. And as expected, the hearty noodle soup was all that it should be – a rich meaty broth (cooked for 10 hours every day apparently) spiked with crunchy bean sprouts, the sharpness of freshly torn holy basil, chopped chilli and a squeeze of lemon. Slippery noodles sit amongst some thin slices of meat which could have been more raw for my taste.
I also very much enjoyed my rice paper rolls with prawn and pork ($8 for 4). When that dish is served suspiciously quickly you can pretty much guarantee it’s been pre-made and whipped out of the fridge. There was a wait for my rolls and they were worth the wait. Obviously freshly wrapped and stuffed with fat prawns, shredded pork, mint and rice noodles, with a fantastic dipping sauce containing a slight chilli kick and nothing like the gluey hoisin you sometimes end up with. I almost enjoyed the rolls more than the pho!
The service, while perfunctorily as is the way of most Victoria Street establishments, was supremely friendly (they love kids!) and their new digs are cleaner and brighter than the original shop at number 270.
Pho Chu The, 264 Victoria St, Richmond +61 3 9427 7749