Hien Vuong Pasteur

12 Comments

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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!

Hien Vuong (Pasteur) on Urbanspoon

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12 thoughts on “Hien Vuong Pasteur

  1. I usually go to Hung Vuong for my pho fix. I get into a pho rut and when I find one I like, it’s hard to go elsewhere. Will have to try Hien Vuong Pasteur I think. Glad Dulcie got to try pho and enjoyed it too!

    • Yes, pho joints tend bring out the same sort of loyalty as footy teams! Like I (tried to) say, we go to Hien Vuong mostly because it does brisk enough trade to be a really top-class place but seating is never a problem.

  2. Pho is sublime. Without pizzle, preferably! Do many of the Vietnamese restaurants you go to in Melbourne have great coffee? When I was in Ho Chi Minh city, the local coffee was the best I’d ever had. They served it with a mini-dripper (not the right term for it, I’m sure) over the cup. From memory (this was in the late 1990s), you poured the hot water in the top and it dripped through the next layer of ground coffee beans and into your cup. Can anyone else be more exact about this? I haven’t had coffee this way anywhere else. Waiters in restaurants back then spoke Vietnamese (of course) and French – not so much English.

  3. Pho Hien Vuong Pasteur is totally my favourite in Footscray so far, though I still have yet to try them all! It’s been two months living in Footscray, so I’m obviously not trying hard enough.

    I’ll confess I’m one of those freaks who orders the large, but that’s usually only if I’m starving, and/or if I’m hung over. Pho has magical properties which cures all that ails ya. ;)

  4. I need your expert opinion on something about this resto, Kenny. Is the pho packed with MSG? Reviews on Urbanspoon are infuriatingly inexact. Some say “drymoutheadache” and some say “nuh” re: the pho. I feel crap after monosodium glutamate, mate. It sends my BP through the ceiling. I’ve been working a few shifts at the Orygen psych ward at The Western. Pray that Bennie never goes anywhere near there. Because I train it and take the 82 tram, I’ve got an excuse to soak up some of the best that Photscray has to offer. I’d hit this place, but I don’t want it to hit me back with a chemical attack.

    • Hi Bukko! It’s simple – I honestly don’t know. AFAIK, neither Bennie nor I have any reaction to MSG one way or the other. I certainly can’t tell when or when not I am eating food with MSG in it.

      • Thx for the reply. A bit of Oogling around led me to a review on Ms. Baklover’s blog from 2012. She says, citing an Age article from back then, that Hien Vuong (and indeed, all the other Footscray pho houses) use MSG. It’s not like the stuff makes me go anaphylactic or anything; I just prefer to avoid the puckered-up feeling I get from it. I can generally sense it from the tongue-burn. I like spicy food, but the MSG sensation has a different, saltier heat to it than chilis or black pepper. I might stick to broken rice and vermicelli salads instead. But I’m definitely going to dive in to the Vietnamese food scene when I’m over there riding herd on the “Romper Stomper” crowd. Your blog s like triage for my tastebuds in that regard.

        P.S. How come you’re not a “Prime” on Urbanspoon, as much content as you contribute to that site? I bet if you posted a few of the food photos you took, and suggested some changes such as opening hours or Features (i.e. if a place is BYOB, late-night, etc.) then ‘Spoon mgmt would nominate you as a member of the Inner Party.

  5. Hello Bukko,
    Like Kenny, I love Huong Vong for pho. For no msg, try Pho & Rolls 151 Hopkins st (corner Droop). All their food is msg free and delicious. If you also like banh cuon I strongly recommend this place. Regards
    Andrew

  6. Thanks for the recommendation, Andlep. I stopped in for pho and spring rolls at Pasteur this evening, despite my MiSGivings, mainly because Kenny spruiked it so strongly. The pho was good, slightly beefier taste to the base than other places, no overt tongue-burn from flavour enhancers. Unfortunately, it’s three hours after the fact and I can feel tightness in my frontal lobes and a headache coming on. I’ll drink a lot of water tonight to flush my system. The chicken rice paper rolls there were great — lots of barbecued Vietnamese chook in them.

    I’m working an afternoon shift at the Orygen youth psychiatric centre tomorrow. I had planned to take the train to Footscray an hour earlier than I usually would so I could get some lunch. I’ll stop at Pho & Rolls and try their banh cuon. I find the rolls more interesting than pho. When you get right down to it, there’s not a lot of variation between one good pho and another. There are many ways to make BAD pho, but the properly-made stuff is like a “standard of identity.” Broth, beef (I’m too squicky to order anything else than rare beef slices), noodles and the sprouts/basil/sauces to add in — universal. You can have lots of variation in good laksas, depending on the spice blend, which protein and veg ingredients are used, the coconuttiness of the soup base, etc. Although I like pho (especially the stuff without MSG) I’m ready to branch out to new soups. (Not with tripe, though, nor with pizzle or beef blood, as Pasteur has on its menu.Ewwwww…) Time to go on a bun bo hue binge, I think.

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