Pho Chu The, 92 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8265
What’s your pho ritual?
Mine invariably goes something like this …
1. Order medium (slice beef sliced chicken) when I know quite well small will do fine.
3. Sip soup for a bit.
4. Add a few slices of fresh chilli.
5. Sip more soup.
6. Empty chilli/lemon bowl and fill it with chilli sauce.
7. Sip more soup.
8. Add basil and bean sprouts to soup/noodles; mix well.
9. Eat, all the while dipping meat in chilli sauce and sipping soup.
10. Near the end, squeeze lemon juice over soup to freshen it up.
12. Sigh happily.
My Pho Chu The experience differs from this near-rigid norm in several regards.
There’s no fresh chillies with my basil-and-sprouts. Instead, they’re provided in bulk in jars on each table. I’m not sure this is such a good idea, as these look a little tired. But they do – and I end up dosing my meal with more than usual just because I’m in the mood for heat.
There are stacks of those little bowls, though, and I fill one of them with chilli sauce AND hoisin sauce. I won’t try this again – it goes OK but I prefer the lean, clean chilli hit over the sweetly compromised blend of both sauces.
My beef is unusual – it’s sliced quite thickly. But it’s still the top-class lean beef you’d expect in any pho joint with pride, and I rather enjoy the experience of chomping on what seems like real steak.
My chicken is likewise more chunky than is usually the case. But that’s OK, too. It’s minus the gnarly bits that often accompany chicken that is not just sliced breast meat.
The broth is OK but lacks any sort of wow factor.
The basil is fresh, all class and plentiful.
And it’s all mine – one of the undoubted cool benefits of eating pho at a table for one.
My meal is a good, honest pho effort and I eat far more of it than I expect.
Pho Chu The is a lot more bright and cheerful than the exterior hints at.
It has one of the most succinct pho-joint menus I’ve ever seen.
But there are photos on the wall of beef stew and spring rolls.
There’s a photo, too, of a meal – “Rump Steak” – that looks like it may be a Viet version of steak ‘n’ eggs.
Steak, fried egg, tomatoes, basil, bread rolls and what appears to be a small bowl of mustard.
My efforts to discover the availability and price are thwarted by a too-high language barrier.
Still, I’m intrigued.