There are few topics that'll get a Melbournian riled up quicker than where to get Melbourne's best pho. Some people will swear it's Springvale or nothing. Others reckon you can't beat Victoria St on a Friday night. The best pho in Melbourne is like a metaphor for happiness: we're all searching for it, there's a lot of theories on how to get it, and the secret is pretty simple. The best pho in Melbourne is the pho that's front of you right now.
So whether you’re a pho-king newbie who never strays beyond tender sliced beef, or a hardcore purist on the hunt for tripe and tendons, here are the best places to get pho in Melbourne.
Pho Hung Vuong
Not to be confused with the Richmond store of a similar name, Pho Hung Vuong only does pho. It's probably the most popular pho joint in Springvale (which is like being the most popular BBQ joint in Texas). There are two main varieties of pho: chicken or beef. That doesn’t stop lines from snaking onto Balmoral Avenue come lunchtime. Choose your favourite form of beef (or grab The Lot if you’re pho-sure keen) and grab a classic Vietnamese drink. You know it's legit from the double mirrors on either wall—a staple in pho bar interior design for some reason.
Pho Hung Vuong Saigon
Dishing up modern Vietnamese soups filled with combinations like sliced beef and sausages swimming in rich broth, Pho Hung Vuong Saigon (are you getting confused yet?) is more than worth the trip west (we probably could have separated these two, but this is more fun). For adventurous pho-ers, order a serve of the spicy beef and pork noodle soup with extra pig trotters. Generous in size, even more generous in flavour. There's a reason this place packs out.
Purists, close your eyes: vegan-friendly dishes dominate the menu at newly opened GOODdays in Brunswick. Expect fragrant four mushroom pho, paired with house-made vegan mushroom and tofu spring rolls. It might not be traditional, but Sydney Road is warmly welcoming the promise of many more good days ahead. And don't fret carnivores, you can get a mean Victorian Black Angus round and brisket pho too, in a rich broth of marrow, chuck and knuckle bone and served with herbs and pickled onion. Not bad.
Pho Hung Vuong 2
There’s no shortage of pho options on Victoria Street, but the experts know to make a beeline for Pho Hung Vuong 2. This humble restaurant serves up steaming bowls of classic pho (including tendon and brisket varieties), vermicelli bowls and crispy spring rolls. Traditional three colour and four colour drinks make a perfect pre-pho starter. The service is fast and the bowls are the size of a small bathtub.
If you prefer your pho with a side of breathing space and beer, Hanoi Hannah has both. Featuring a menu with dishes including a sharp, mixed mushroom pho, or grilled fish salad and Peking duck rice paper rolls (for your friend that stupidly wore a white top), Hanoi Hannah is great for people too scared to drive to Springvale. The new Richmond restaurant has some absolutely banging dishes too. Rock up just after (or before) lunch to avoid the queues.
Ph-OH, ph-AH, ph-UR—however you like to pronounce your pho, Pho Nom isn't gonna judge. Nestled on the bottom level of the Emporium, Pho Nom boasts a boutique menu of pho, fresh banh mi and rice-based com. It's the casual eatery from Jerry Mai (the genius behind Annam in the CBD). The Pho Bo Saigon with sliced rare beef, brisket and meatballs will have you trotting to this shopping centre every week. While you're there, double down with a crispy chicken banh mi—one of our favourite lunch snacks in town.
Pho Chu The
Another westside classic, Pho Chu The has been dishing up A-Grade pho on Hopkins St for ages (there's also on one Victoria St). Don't expect flashy design or amazing service—the idea is to get in, eat your pho, then get out. But damn the soup here is good—there's often a crowd at lunch, and most people head straight for the rare sliced beef. A snip at $12. Pro tip: don't forget the Vietnamese iced coffee.
I Love Pho 264
If you’re easing a newbie into the world of “f-UR”, I Love Pho 264 on Victoria St is made for you. The menu is very unintimidating: classic sliced beef and super-safe shredded chicken. If you want to be more adventurous, you can enjoy your chicken giblets, heart and liver too. Heads up: these guys also have a store in the Emporium for all you inner-city dwellers. Top floor in the big food court.
A proper local pho gem, head into Balaclava's Mopho Canteen for some truly excellent Vietnamese cuisine. From rich beef pho to creamy coconut ice-cream, they're the best way to enjoy an authentic hawker-style experience in Melbourne's south. Plus, veggos and meat-eaters alike will love the mushroom and tofu pho offering—pretty as a picture, and super tasty to boot. They've also just opened a new Canteen on Toorak Rd, South Yarra.
Pho Kim Long
This Pho joint is nothing fancy to look at, but it's consistently serving up some of the best Vietnamese noodle soup going 'round Melbourne. Pho real. From the sliced beef to chicken and egg yolk, at Pho Kim Long you just can't go wrong. With each bowl only setting you back a max of 12 bucks, it would almost be offensive not to grab that second serve.
We were all a little devo (see: a lot devo) when this family-run local joint burned down late last year, taking its soft drink-lined walls and complimentary cut oranges and Coles cakes with it. But dry those tears! Proud Peacock have just re-opened in a brand-spanking new store in Mount Waverley. And they're back serving up some seriously delicious pho. Simply add chilli and lemon to your liking (the more the better, if you ask us), and let the savoury, salty, rich broth ease all the week's stresses. Best enjoyed with a Vietnamese drip coffee.
Time for the Bayside to get a look-in. Get yourselves down to Typhoon in Highett for a feast of authentic North Vietnamese street food. We're talking big steaming bowls of pho. They've got chicken, they've got beef, and they've got two different vegetarian options. Try the Pho Rau for a more classic veggo option of white mushrooms, black shitake mushrooms, bean shoots, choy sum and fried tofu, or branch out and give the Sapa Pho Rau a shot. Roasted vegetable broth with broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, parsnip, carrot and onion.
Pho Minh Long
This place is exactly what you want your local Pho place to be. Quick, cheap and tasty. Their soups are packed with flavour and generously sized for a not-so-generously sized wallet—the large will only set you back $12, and leave no room for seconds. Unless you're really committed. We respect that.
Ginger & Chives
Ginger & Chives is definitely what you'd call a 'modern' pho bar. Which is another way of saying it's not just a buzzing fluorescent warehouse with mirrors strapped to every wall—they actually got a designer in here. All the food is excellent, and there's a very good pho on the menu. You can either get it with sliced beef, chicken or a combination of both (purists will note the absence of tripe and tendon options). It's probably less authentic than some pho bars around town, more in the Pho Nom sort of mould, but damn if it's not tasty. Highly recommend.
Simply look out for the crowds when trying to spot this one. That and the double walled mirrors (why is that such a constant in these restaurants?). Once you get your table at Pho Hung in Preston, order any (and every) Pho on the menu and simply sit back and slurp up that soupy goodness. All you need is a tenner and your appetite.
Pho Lau Kim Long
Free range farm chicken and hearty traditional pho, that's what you'll get at this Sunshine eatery. Most Melbournians refuse to cross the Westgate (we heard there were dragons out there), but Pho Lau Kim Long on Hampshire Rd is well worth the trip. Their signature dish is the pho dac biet chicken pho, but the rare sliced beef is melt-in-your-mouth amazing too.
Let's keep the good times rolling. Here's everywhere to get good banh mi in Melbourne.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White