Western Pho, 2B Burnside St, Deer Park. Phone: 9363 0022
Think western suburbs and Vietnamese food and almost all of us will automatically think Footscray, followed by Sunshine and St Albans.
But Deer Park sports a Vietnamese gem.
Western Pho is a gorgeous little family run business situated just off the main Deer Park shopping strip.
It’s a first restaurant adventure for Phi and his wife, Ha, who does most of the cooking.
They’ve been up and running since taking over the premises from the previous operators about five months ago, and some time before that the place was a (mostly takeaway) Chinese establishment.
That heritage shows in the comfy old-school decor, which is these days adorned by a plethora of food photos.
The service is super friendly and caring.
And judging by the number of familiar locals coming and going, it seem Western Pho is playing something of community hub role as well.
Based on my most enjoyable lunch, I reckon just about everything on the menu would be worth trying.
It’s a long document, listing more than 100 items and boasting prices at the lower end of what you’d find in Footscray.
They’re all there – well most of “them”: Pho and other soup noodles, vermicelli, fried noodles, Chinese-derived dishes, one-person rice plates, rice paper and spring rolls, satay skewers and much more.
I really dig it when Vietnamese restaurants provide small-serve portions of soup – it enables one to get a soup hit without dedicating a whole meal to it.
Western Pho has six of them, all but one of them priced at a very groovy $4.
The broth of my wonton soup is a little too sweet for my taste, but is still fine and hot.
The three tender-yet-pleasingly-chewy dumplings are joined by a couple of good pork slices and various bits of greenery.
Sometimes soggy, soup-laden lettuce leaves are just the ticket!
Western Pho’s coleslaw, Phi tells me, is normally served “unspicy” but he’s happy to add some chilli slices to my order of the prawn and vegetable rendition ($11).
They’re the cream on what is a very good version of Vietnamese coleslaw.
The vegetables are so fresh and crunchy that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover my salad had been made from scratch in the kitchen.
There’s a lot of medium-sized prawn tails that have been split in two length-wise. They, too, are very fresh and quite delicate. But their flavour is so very, very mild that I rather wish I’d opted for the chicken or pork versions.
Joining the red chilli slices are plenty of roasted peanuts and fried shallots, with the whole dish basking in a pleasant but not particularly tangy dressing.
Deer Park punters are lucky to have such a cracking Vietnamese eatery in their ‘hood.
They do home delivery, too!