I woke up in the wee small hours this morning, struggling to breath. A case of strep throat was the cause. So after several hot lemon drinks, some aspirin and lots of water I took myself down to the Valley for the modern Australian cold and flu cure – Phở.
After consulting Twitter, it was decided that ‘the place next to Retravision’ would be our supplier. Phở Hoang Gia is a cheery and sparklingly clean dining room, popular with Vietnamese families and your typically Valley mix of thirty somethings and intrepid tourists. We arrived shortly before noon and a number of tables were turned over twice before we left. It’s busy and bustling with Sponge Bob on the flat screen TV’s and family friendly service on the floor. Some effort has gone into the decor with vaulted ceilings featuring metropolitan night time scenes. As Asian restaurant fitouts go, its charmingly inoffensive.
We kept it basic and ordered two large bowls of Phở Tai. Prices are very cheap here, $7 small, $8 medium and $9 large. Large is the size of salad bowl, but its not a struggle to finish a bowl of the steaming fragrant phở. It’s a little sweeter than some of the other phở places out at Inala and Darra, possibly the result of regional differences of their owners. The thinly sliced rare beef was flavoursome and the Thai basil, bean sprouts, lime and bird’s eye chilli perfectly fresh. Requests for extra herbs, beansprouts and for one diner, no rice noodles were accommodated without so much as a blink. We also sampled the chilli garlic squid ($8), succulent and yielding inside, crunchy and crumbly on the outside and served with a tangy chilli garlic sauce and salad. We also ordered a Vietnamese pork pankcake (banh xeo) which came with mountains of salad and herbs. It was tasty and the lettuce, cucumber, carrot, vietnamese mint, basil and gai lan were again super fresh. We couldn’t quite work out whether to put them in the pancake or eat them seperately – a reminder to find someone to give us a few more lessons on Vietnamese cuisine.
Each table bears a small tray of extra sauces and flavourings, chopsticks, cutlery and a box of tissues. This might seem a little unusual but Phở reliably clears the sinuses, and even more so if you add all of the supplied bird’s eye chilli. For my preferred sweet/sour/salty punch I added a good glug of fish sauce and a generous squeeze of lime.
Phở Hoang Gia is BYO and there’s three pages of Vietnamese speciality drinks including that drink of the moment – Bubble tea. It’s great value, an easy walk from the CBD or Brunswick Street Station and one of the better run restaurants in the Valley. Just the ticket next time you need some aPhomatherapy! (thanks to @treepiepurr for that one).
Phở Hoang Gia Vietnamese Restaurant
‘So Phở So Good’
146-148 Wickham Street
Phone: 07 3252 8808
Open 7 days from 10am, until approx 9pm each night, except Tuesday (closes 3pm)