Like the wonderful and somewhat similar Rickshaw Run in Footscray, Pho Fever is a great enterprise – in this case, throwing a tasty spotlight on the Vietnamese food of Sunshine.
I didn’t make the previous year’s event, so am delighted to accept a complementary invitation from the Sunshine Business Association to attend in 2014.
After being welcomed by Simon and Phong, it’s up the red carpet for tonight’s punters.
Oooh, funky glamour in Sunshine!
As we enjoy a drink of iced coffee, I love chatting to CTS reader Loren (on the right) and her sister, Kate.
And chatting, too, to my good pal Jacqui of Urban Ma and her hubby, Wes.
It’s been far too long between drinks, so to speak, for Jacqui and I … so a good thing it is that later on in the night, and from our respective homes, we tee up not just a lunch but a dinner, too!
After introductory words, the punters split into two groups to visit three different restaurants each.
Our first stop in a CTS favourite – Pho Hien Saigon. (See most recent story here).
Cung explains how his restaurant’s pho is the result of experimenting with his father’s “too strong” recipe.
He talks, too, of the various condiments and how they are used.
I have a simple pho of sliced chicken. It is superb, with the broth having that coveted “crisp and clean” thing going on.
Then it’s across the road to Thuan An, where Julie and her team have set out a beautiful table featuring candles and pho spices and condiments.
Here I switch to equally simply sliced beef – and it, too, is very good, the broth having a robust but not overpowering flavour.
I really enjoy meeting and talking to fellow westies Le Yen, Peter, Tracey and Malcolm. That latter pair are actually from Woodend, but as always I am keen to cast the westies boundaries net wide!
Besides, Tracey is the brand new marquee manager for the Sunshine Business Association.
Before departing, we are invited into the kitchen to gaze admiringly at the stockpots already hard at work for the next’s day’s brew.
Then we’re off for a minute stroll to right next door and Nhi Nuong 2 Sister Restaurant, where we are greeted – and entertained – by the sisters, Yen and Elizabeth, themselves.
Here the food and drink goes in another tack in the form of wonderfully chewy and delicious bo la lot (beef in vine leaves), spring rolls, freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice and Nhi Nuong’s signature tra moc tien tea with its subtle flavour of pandan.
Thanks for having me!