Tag Archives: restaurant

Restaurant Review: Pho Hoang Gia, Fortitude Valley

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
Fortitude Valley

Phone: 07 3252 8808

Open 7 days from 10am, until approx 9pm each night, except Tuesday (closes 3pm)

Restaurant Review: Wagamama, Brisbane

This is a ‘pan asian’ chain ‘restaurant’ that specialises in noodles and excels at mediocrity. The atmosphere exudes food court but with an Emo rock/Billy Joel/jazz guitar/chill out soundtrack and similarly schizophrenic service.

Your server asks you if you have been to Wagamama before. Yes, people do make return visits. The place was heaving. This question is really to warn you that your meals will come out in whatever order the kitchen gets them ready in, so in some ways not unlike a more authentic Asian restaurant.

So in no particular order we tried ebi gyoza that tasted only of the dirty oil they were cooked in served with a rust coloured hot-ish sauce, a special of zucchini flowers glazed in a sugary syrup served with a daikon and mint salad dressed in a sugary syrup and served with pumpkin and beetroot fried rice, Thai noodle stir fry which had the decency not to call itself the pad thai it is clearly trying to imitate, tasting mostly of tomato paste and served with a thin, dry wedge of lime, calamari fried to resemble popcorn and the Wagamama ramen  - a huge bowl of vaguely flavoured stock with one each prawn, grilled chicken and tofu with a garnish of raw bok choy.

This chain started in the UK before Masterchef and the televisual onslaught of Gordon, Jamie and Hugh began. It’s now in 15 countries around the world.  Mains are between $16 and $21.

Perhaps in another location Wagamama could be viewed as exotic, however there is no excuse to eat at such a poor excuse for Asian cuisine in Brisbane. I wish I’d stayed in and had a ham sandwich.


Wintergarden Shopping Centre

171 – 209 Queen Street Mall



Restaurant Review: The Euro, Brisbane

Before it was The Euro, this space was Serengeti, an odd mish mash of Singaporean-Chinese chefs doing a pasta and foccacia cafe menu with authentic mee goreng available to those in the know.  The fitout was left over from a chain cafe and featured stained glass and cheap prints of Paris.  Noisy and bustling, and was a great place to grab a quick meal and gossip, provided you understood how to navigate the schizophrenic menu.

In the same amount of space next door was Urbane MKI, even in its original incarnation one of the sexiest restaurants in Brisbane.  I was lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy a degustation and matched wines on its last night before the builders were called in.  What has emerged from these combined spaces is a very special group of venues.

The Euro is a brasserie which even if it served porridge would be remarkable for its exciting and cohesive design.  Warm timbers, exposed heritage brickwork and angular, coloured lighting and glass provide a sophisticated back drop for a drink at the bar, a meal and a glass of wine or extended culinary adventures.  The sophistication extends to small details – stemware and cutlery well above ‘brasserie’ standards, well orchestrated service and an impressively stocked bar and bar staff to do it justice.  The wine list steers clear of safe expense account options, but rewards with some interesting and judiciously priced wines. 

One of the principles of the venue was to source great produce, including whole carcasses from top producers, organic and heirloom vegetables and handmade smallgoods.  Bespoke 56 day dry aged AACO wagyu beef  and organic yearling is at the centre of a menu that manages to be unfussy and innovative at the same time.  Kym Machin’s passion and technique is evident in dishes like a deconstructed chicken pot au feu and the quality of the produce matches this in dishes like carpaccio of wagyu bresaola with slow cooked pullet egg, truffled potato and parmesan and milk fed veal, served simply with lemon, aioli and slaw.  Past hits have included a very enjoyable bolognaise, mulloway pastie with almond mayo and a risotto of roast pumpkin and gorgonzola.  The menu is seasonal and changes regularly.  Kym’s passion doesn’t appear to lagging as each new menu is even more appealing.

Desserts here are a must.  I’ve just spotted a chocolate and px sherry trifle with chewy pumpkin seed caramel on the new menu, reminding me of one of the best things about The Euro.  Pastry chef Shaun Quade was recently nominated for Gourmet Traveller’s Best New Talent award and even if you have no room for dessert, at least order the petit fours.

One of the things that makes The Euro special is the sure hand of Andy Buchanan, one of the venue’s owners, along with Drew Patten who presides of Urbane’s dining room.  Along with Kym Machin, they have created four very special venues – Urbane, The Euro, Laneway Bar and private dining room SubUrbane.  Whilst they’ve clearly surrounded themselves with a talented team you can’t help but admire their focus and daring.  That the patrons are loving it signals a new maturity in the Brisbane dining scene.

The Euro

179 Mary Street, Brisbane

Phone:  07 3229 3686