Pho Hung Vuong Saigon, 128 Hopkins St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 6002
Pho Hung Vuong Saigon is unquestionably the largest of Footscray’s pho joints.
Based on long observation, I think it’s fair to claim it’s also the most popular.
I base that claim on the simple fact Bennie and I never eat there … every time when in the vicinity and in the pho mood, the place is invariably packed, with every table taken and often folks waiting for a vacant one.
As well, our recall is that when the place is operating at its usual frantic and high-turnover pace, the service – indeed, the experience in general – can become somewhat frazzled.
What’s the appeal?
Well, when it opened at these premises, quite a few years back now, it did have a sort cafe-style vibe not found in its many nearby competitors.
These days, though, and size apart, it has so many of the usual accoutrements in terms of artwork and has such a lived-in feel that it seems not much different from all the others.
So … a mid-week and early-ish lunch beckons, there’s actually unused tables – so in we go.
Our orders are taken promptly and with a minimum of fuss.
Bennie’s “pork chop, fried egg, shredded pork” ($10.50) really hits the spot.
As far as I can recall it’s the first time he’s eaten this dish – in my company at least.
But he barely pauses for breath as he more or less eats the plate clean.
The cucumber slices look a little, um, “tired” to me, and the usual pate slice is missing, replaced it seems by another chunk of chop meat.
The egg looks really good.
He leaves the soup until last, but he loves that, too, telling me it’s just right – which means, usually, not too sweet.
As I pondered my pho order, a little devil sitting on one shoulder was whispering, “medium, medium, medium”. The little angel sitting on the other was whispering, with equal vehemence, “small, small, small”.
For once, I sided with the angels and that turns out to be a good move, as my small “sliced beef/sliced chicken” ($8.50) is excellent and plenty big enough.
The basil and chillis are fresh, the broth is crisp and packed with flavour and there’s more than enough meat, all of good quality.
And for once, I finish a serve of pho … almost.
Our lunch has been very good but no better than what is available at several nearby alternative establishments.
But nevertheless, we note that no doubt due to its rampant popularity the hard-working staff here are so busy taking care of business that there seems little scope for the smiling welcome and service we ordinarily receive at our most regular pho haunt.