Just arrived in this great city after three hot and hectic months exploring Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – first stop – a taste of Asia to keep us in the travel mood. Catching a tram up Church Street we hop off at Victoria Street in Richmond – a bustling mini-Vietnam with byo restaurants and no-frills canteens serving up an array of bbq meats and huge steaming bowls of fragrant noodle soup.
We duck (excuse the pun) into Pho Dzung – pretty much all the seats are filled with punters, heads bowed in concentration with chopsticks and spoon in hand, slurping rice noodles with T-shirt-splattering speed. A thermos flask and plastic cups are dumped unceremoniously on the table and we turn our attention to the simple numbered menu mounted on the wall, now this bodes well. Choose from chicken or beef soup – both promise a full-flavoured stock laced with chives, fried shallots, spring onions and coriander – and then think about what meat you want floating among your rice noodles.
Beginners should opt for sliced chicken or rare beef – Asia aficionados might want to ramp it up with tendons, coagulated blood or chicken liver. Just order the corresponding number – to avoid any squeamish confusion. Servings range from $7-$9 for a small, medium or large bowl. Trust me, medium is definitely hungry-man size, especially if you are planning to grab a side of prawn spring rolls or pork and rice.
Served with a plate of crunchy bean sprouts, lime and lemon quarters, fresh chillies and holy basil you can adjust the broth to your heart’s content – sour, not so sour, mild or nose-blowing hot. Be sure to get involved with on-table condiments, too – fish sauce, soy sauce and chilli paste to turn the clear stock a deep peppery brown.
The verdict – insanely good value place serving up a delicious taste of authentic Vietnamese pho (and service).
208 Victoria Street
Tel. (03) 9427 0292
City slickers should try:
Pho Dzung City
234 Russell Street
Tel. (03) 9663 8885