Pho 128, 72 Watton St, Werribee. Phone: 8742 3128
Our plans for a long overdue first visit to a Seddon Indian place are nixed upon learning there’s parent night at Bennie’s new school.
So timing is of the essence – there are places in Werrribee we have yet to try, but their turnaround times are an unknown quantity, so we head for the town’s relatively new pho joint, Pho 128.
We wonder if it will deliver pho-house quality without the critical mass of Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans.
Pho 128 certainly looks the part, with Bennie even opining, “This looks like it’ll be good”.
But a closer inspection reveals the sort of approaches no doubt necessary in a location such as this.
There are no Vietnamese names for the dishes, for instance.
And there’s even “pho seafood”, with crabsticks.
Having earlier resolved to test Pho 128’s benchmarks – a bowl of simple, straightahead pho and one of the rice or vermicelli options – we let our curiosity run free and cave.
Bennie’s beef stew has the correct flavour, even if it is rather tame, and the beautifully tender chunks of beef (off the bone) and carrot.
But the liquid is viscous, and perhaps even thickened, in a way you’ll never find in the likes of this Footscray institution‘s bo kho.
As well, the rice noodles are thick and white, rather than thin and transparent.
Still, Bennie likes it.
My Vietnamese chicken curry is likewise not quite as expected.
It’s a much darker colour than the classic chook curry found at this St Albans’ fave; the gravy is thicker, too, giving the dish an almost Japanese vibe.
As ever with Vietnamese chicken curry the proof is perversely in the potato chunks – and these half-dozen or so are very fine indeed, curry-coloured to their very core.
The meat is boneless, a tad on the tough side but quite tasty.
Not meeting expectations fostered by familiarity with the west’s hardcore Viet hubs is no sin and we’ve enjoyed our quick, pre-school function meals.
But we can’t help but feel we may have well and truly goofed by not sticking with the original pho-and-rice scenario.