An unfailing cure for colds and cranky moods, pho is one of best things about Melbourne winter. Whether you’re a pho-king purist who never strays beyond tender sliced beef or a modern pho-lover, here are the best places to get your slurp on.
Pho Hung Vuong 2
There’s no shortage of pho-ful options on Victoria Street, but the experts will make a beeline for Hung Vuong 2. This stripped back, two-storey 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.
Pho Hung Vuong
Not to be confused with the Richmond store of a similar name, Pho Hung Vuong offers just two main varieties of pho: chicken or beef. That doesn’t stop lines from snaking onto Balmoral Avenue come lunchtime, however. Choose your favourite form of beef (or grab The Lot if you’re pho-sure keen) and grab a classic Vietnamese drink. They’re made pho each other.
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. For adventurous pho-ers, order a serve of the spicy beef and pork noodle soup with extra pig trotters.
Wat Da Pho
South Melbourne isn’t known for its Vietnamese cuisine, but Wat Da Pho might be changing that. Grab a seat on one of the communal benches and order your favourite type of pho. Be warned: sticky, chargrilled skewers of chicken and avocado smoothies will probably have you staying (and eating) for longer than expected.
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, at this contemporary Vietnamese eatery. It might not be traditional, but Sydney Road is warmly welcoming the promise of good days.
Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam
Pho the winter days when you need a mood-lifting (although our puns are doing it for you by now, surely), grab a lighting-fast bowl of soupy, hot noodles and squeeze into Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam on Swanston Street. Boasting an aging sign which proudly declares Bill Clinton’s pho consumption, this no-frills, hawker-style pho house ticks all the boxes for a dirt-cheap bowl of pho.
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 serves some of the best pho in a rustic, bright space.
Ph-OH, ph-AH, ph-UR, however you like to pronounce your pho, Pho Nom is the least likely to judge you. Nestled on the bottom level of the Emporium, Pho Nom boasts a boutique menu of pho, fresh bahn mi and rice-based com. The Pho Bo Saigon with sliced rare beef, brisket and meatballs will have you trotting to this shopping centre every week.
I Love Pho 264
If you’re easing a pho-newbie into the world of “f-UR”, I Love Pho 264 on Victoria street is made pho them. With an unintimidating menu including classic sliced beef and super-safe shredded chicken, you can enjoy your chicken giblets, heart and liver as they happily slurp up what is essentially a much better version of your mum’s chicken soup.
A hidden local pho gem, head into Balaclava's Mopho Canteen for some of the finest traditional Vietnamese cuisine. From rich beef pho to creamy coconut ice-cream, enjoy an authentic hawker-style experienc in Melbourne's south.
Need more pho-king options? Check out the first round up of Melbourne's Best Pho!
Image credit: I Love Pho, Simon Shiff for The Urban List.