In recovery from a nasty tummy bug, all I wanted when I woke on Saturday was pho.
For those who haven’t tried it, pho [pronounced something like “fu-u-uh” — I was told to curl the ‘uh’ sound, like a mini verbal rollercoaster] is a delicate, clear Vietnamese noodle soup that is refreshing and warming at once. It distils the very essence of its components into a cleansing elixir of pure goodness. And that definition does not do it the justice it deserves.
The last Vietnamese restaurant at which I had the pleasure of dining was Nhat Tan in Sydney. I was served an excellent introduction to pho — and ignorant me called it “vegetable noodle soup” at the time, which it is, only way, way better.
Now I discover that pho production is a revered industry all of its own, involving secret recipes and master stocks and dead bodies in alleyways. I made that last bit up, btw. Though I am sure many professional establishments guard their recipes closely, there are many and varied recipes to be found online/in cookbooks — such as the detailed example from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, via Viet World Kitchen. [Incidentally, one of my friends is visiting Vietnam very soon and I am hoping to have an authentic pho recipe in my hot little hands within mere months…]
I hadn’t eaten much Vietnamese food in Perth, save for rice paper rolls, which are an addiction, so I set out to find a restaurant online. I had heard of Viet Hoa in Northbridge and To To in Victoria Park, but I went for Simply Pho (Unit 2/305-309 William St, Northbridge — ph: 9328 6895) because of its name. It’s what they do so it had to be good, right?
With a still-weak stomach, I thought it best to go vegetarian for the day, starting with the rice paper rolls I ordered for entree. They looked good but were not the greatest I had tasted; I looked forward to the main event.
From the first mouthful, my main meal hit the spot beautifully. This huge bowl of steaming soup was almost exactly what I felt like: if I had been given just the clear broth, with some of the add-your-own lemon, mint and sliced chilli, I would have blissed out. The noodles and vegetables tasted fresh and delicious, but the broth was awesome. The bowl was so big that I could not finish my order. I did drain the bowl of as much precious liquid as I could, however.
As I was leaving, I noticed merchandise and, lacking sufficient sets of chopsticks at home, I bought four pairs of chopsticks with paua shell inlays and holders. I was satisfied with my $10 purchase and can’t wait to try them out.
The service at Simply Pho was pleasant and prompt, and I felt that the $14 I paid for my meal ($9 for the pho by itself) was very reasonable indeed. I would recommend the vegetable pho to anyone wanting a wholesome, simple meal and it’s certainly large enough to satisfy without any additions.
Incidentally, on my way to Simply Pho I passed many a good-looking Vietnamese restaurant. I can now see myself eating my way down William Street in search of Northbridge’s best pho, beginning next weekend. This is a flavour sensation I could eat all the time.
I absolutely understand how the Vietnamese can start their morning with this dish and eat it continuously through each day.