Pho Kim Long, 60 Alfrieda St, St Albans. Phone: 9364 4960
That the street frontage of Pho Kim Long is set a metre or so back from those of its neighbours and pretty much the whole of one side of Alfrieda St seems fitting.
This is an unfussy, utilitarian eating place, one unlikely – I suspect – to get much trade from visitors from elsewhere who are liable to gravitate towards some of the shinier establishments.
This is where locals eat – and there’s a lot of them.
As I saunter in, only two other tables are taken – one by a group of slurping senior citizens, a very comforting sight indeed.
By the time I’m done, the place is packed, with all heads over bowls.
Everything about the place – the tiles, the Buddhist shrine, the furniture, the menu, the tabletop accoutrements, the smell – is familiar and reassuring.
Pho Kim Long does pho every which way, but in only one size – and that appear to Large for $9.
That is what most of my fellow customers are tucking into.
I take another tack, ordering the vermicelli with pork and spring rolls ($9).
At first this looks a little on the drab side, but it’s fine.
The pork is on the oily side, quite thinly sliced, almost has a curry kind of tang to it and goes down a treat.
The spring rolls are ungreasy, crisp, hot and really good.
All the other ingredients are present and accounted for – crunchy peanuts, pickled vegetables, herbs and leaves including mint and some cabbage.
It’s good, even if not of the same stellar level of the vermicelli dishes at Pho Hien Saigon.
This is a nice lunch in a really soulful restaurant.