144 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 9698
We love our next door neighbour Dulcie.
She’s got a bent sense of humour, is a seasoned traveller and a jazz fan.
But a few weeks ago we were aghast to discover her rich life was unpardonably devoid of one of life’s great experiences – pho!
What a spectacular honour, then, that it fell to Bennie and Kenny to initiate her.
There was never any question that we would go anywhere other than Hien Vuong Pasteur.
This place has gone from being our default pho joint to very much our preferred pho joint.
We started going there because Hung Vuong, just a few doors down the road, had become so wildly popular that tables were hard to come by and the service frequently got a bit mad and sloppy.
Since then Hien Vuong Pasteur has repaid our loyalty many times over.
I’m not about to suggest it’s the best pho in a phocentric neighbourhood.
But it IS right up there, the staff are lovely and it’s never so busy that getting seated becomes an issue.
With pho, surprises are generally not good and predictability a virtue.
Hien Vuong Pasteur’s pho is consistently excellent.
The broth is perfection, be it beef or chicken. The meat is always good and the bean sprouts and basil leaves always fresh.
The sliced beef is lean and tender, and there’s always a fair bit of it that comes to the table pink and still to be cooked in the broth.
What more could you want?
All the usual meat options are available, except pizzle, but we like ours plain.
Like all classy pho joints, Hien Vuong Pasteur has a handful of other dishes available – but why would you order crispy fried chicken with egg noodle soup, stewed beef or broken rice when you can have pho? I guess we DO vary our orders about once or twice a year.
For our Saturday lunch, Bennie and I ordered our regular small size slice beef and sliced chicken ($7.50). For many years, my standard order was medium size, please, but that seems too big for me these days. And who eats a large serve of pho? You don’t see one ordered that often.
Given she was a pho novice, I suggested Dulcie go for the sliced chicken, its broth being less funky and likely more familiar for her. She liked it a lot, although went without the sprouts and herb leaves.
Dulcie even ordered spring rolls to go to have for her dinner that night.
Bonus: On paying, Hien Vuong Pasteur has a lolly jar for the kids.
For a far more authoritative, enjoyable and insightful rundown on Footscray’s amazing Vietnamese eats scene, some serious reading time at the Footscray Food Blog of Ms Baklover is highly recommended. She knows her stuff!