There are few topics that'll get a Melburnian 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 Street on a Friday night. The best pho in Melbourne is like a metaphor for happiness: we're all searching for it, there are a lot of theories on how to get it, and the secret is pretty simple.
To help us identify some of the top broths in Melbourne we asked our audience, what resulted was a flurry of votes for different soupy bowls all over town. Here's where to find the best pho in Melbourne according to you:
Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam
One of the most storied restaurants on Swanston Street, Mekong is an institution, an unassuming giant; simply some of the best pho in Melbourne. Entering here you're greeted with the claim that Bill Clinton devoured two bowls of the signature Mekong broth on an A4 laminated poster; true or untrue what's not up for argument is how dialled in the pho is here. From your staple sliced beef to the incredibly char-grilled pork options both options result in a hearty bowl of glistening soup with perfectly cooked noodles and a side plate of Vietnamese mint, bean shoots and lemon slices to garnish. Game. Set. Mekong.
Learn the rules and then break them. The owners of Pho Thin have several locales in their home country of Vietnam along with a few around the globe, though this is their first Australian locale; here, you can of course slurp up a classic beef brisket or poached chicken pho, though they also serve up a beef pho that's had the protein stir-fried in garlic first—and it's banging.
Perfectly described as the 'Stalwart of Springvale', Hoa Tran has earned its mantle from a decade-plus pursuit of pho perfection. Situated just out front of the entrance to Springvale shopping centre, the bustling Vietnamese diner is always filled to the brim with locals and those chasing some of the best pho in Melbourne.
Pho Hung Vuong
Not to be confused with the Richmond store of a similar name, Pho Hung Vuong only does pho. There are two main varieties of pho on offer but 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 looking to knock things up a notch, don't forget to grab a classic Vietnamese tri-colour drink. You know it's legit from the double mirrors on either wall—a staple in pho bar interior design for some reason.
I Love Pho
If you’re easing into the world of Pho (pronounced: 'fuh'), I Love Pho on Victoria Street is maybe the best pho spot to start. The menu is very friendly to newcomers, with 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.
Close your eyes if you’re a purist because vegan-friendly dishes dominate the menu at the newly opened Good Days 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 knucklebone and served with herbs and pickled onion. Not bad.
Pho Chu The
Another westside classic, Pho Chu The has been dishing up A-Grade pho on Hopkins Street for ages (there's also one on Victoria Street). 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.
Tia Con is the brainchild of food truck legend, Linda Huynh, and she's bringing all the zest of Vietnamese street food to the diners of Brunswick. Honouring family recipes while bringing Vietnamese food firmly into the 21st century, Tia Con makes a mean pho with 12-hour slow-cooked Angus brisket no less, but there’s also a vegan alternative if you’re so inclined.
Pho Kim Long
This pho joint is nothing fancy to look at, but it's consistently serving up some of the best Vietnamese pho in 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 will only set you back a max of 14 bucks, it would almost be offensive not to grab that second serve.
Simply lookout for the crowds when trying to spot this one. That and the double-walled mirrors (there it goes again). Once you get your table at Pho Hung in Preston, order any Pho on the menu and simply sit back and slurp up that soupy goodness. All you need is a tenner and your appetite. You’ll be wondering why you hadn’t ventured for the best pho on the northside earlier.
If you can’t get enough soup varieties in your life, check out our guide to Melbourne’s best ramen.