152 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9077 9098
A couple of previous incarnations at this address – one of them Korean – came and went without us taking them for a whirl.
Going by the good trade they are doing this Monday lunch time, it seems a good bet that Phong Dinh will be around a good deal longer.
It’s a lovely room, cleverly using some of the more upmarket vibe of several of its Viet neighbours yet still playing the role of affordable noodle house, a fact attested to by the menu prices.
The colour scheme is a bit darker than your standard noodle joint, though, and the effect is calming and tranquil.
As well, there’s a semi-alfresco area containing a handful of tables from which observing the street hustle and bustle is no doubt a lot of fun.
My can of soft drink is presented alongside a tumbler packed with ice cubes – always a nice touch.
You’ll find pho here, but the list is a lot broader than that – there’s a heap of interesting noodle and rice dishes.
The “hu tieu mi”, which precedes the restaurant’s name in its signage, denotes a focus on rice and egg noddles, in soup or dry with soup on the side.
Bun thang ($9) is described as Hanoi chicken soup with vermicelli.
From what I’ve been able to discover, it’s a northern dish rather than one specifically associated with Hanoi.
And while there is some chicken – poached, small pieces, some with fiddly bones – it is matched and more in terms of quantity by the traditional ingredients of slices of splendidly eggy omelette that is both yellow and white and Vietnamese pork loaf (cha).
One seemingly knowledgeable source I found says the stock should be a mix of chicken and pork, but this – as far as I can tell – is chicken only, delicious as it is.
The accompanying plate of greenery includes not only the sprout-and-herb combo that comes with pho but also lettuce and cabbage of both white and yellow varieties.
This all adds some handy crunch and colour to a dish that needs it.
It’s a beaut lunch but very mild of flavour.
I usually leave the addition of lemon juice until near the completion of most soup noddle dishes I order; here it goes in early on – along with slices of fresh red chilli – to give it all a bit of a boost.
Still, the lighter touch is a winner for situations in which more meaty options may be a matter of too much of a good thing.
Phong Dinh strikes me as a very handy addition to the range of Footscray Vietnamese eateries.
You can Ms Baklover’s review at Footscray Food Blog here.