Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review - Pho Chu The

Sunday, 8th July 2012

Pho Chu The
270 Victoria Street,

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Taste Rating: 8/10   Value Rating: 7.5/10

Pho Chu The on Urbanspoon

Pho Chu The. Wonder what it means. Well, I know what pho is. But the rest? On a whim, I plugged the name into Google Translate, a really handy, quick language conversion tool. Google Translate tells me 'Pho Chu The' (Vietnamese to English) means 'The Vice'. Really?! Is it pho-ssible? Room for doubt here. One of the Seven Deadly Vices is Gluttony ...  overindulgence in food ... and the pho at Pho Chu The is easy to overindulge in!

Start at the beginning. It was a cold winter night in Melbourne. Finding ourselves near Richmond, we decided we must have pho. We drove past Pho Chu The, parked at the furthest end of Victoria Street to where Pho Chu The is as we couldn't find a parking spot before that, and trekked back in the cold wind and dark night, looking in all the lighted windows of other Vietnamese restaurants on the way. Don't ask me why. Maybe it was the name that appealed to us. We pushed opened the door and were offered a table immediately, which was fortunate as this place was very busy when we were there. Most people seemed familiar with the place, with almost as many Asians as non-Asians making themselves comfortable and confidently ordering their pho(s). What is the plural of pho?

The core business here is pho - and the menu reflects this. The only non-pho items are the spring rolls and the drinks. They keep things simple at this place. The only menu is on the wall, no menu is handed to you at the table.

It is easy to order. You decide whether you like Chicken or Beef, then whether you want the meat only version or one of the 'extended' versions. For beef, there is Special (read 'offal'), Brisket, Fat, Tendon, Cartilage, Tripe or Beef Balls. For chicken, there is Special, Shredded or  Giblets & Liver. Next is the size - Small ($8), Medium ($9) and Large ($10). Having three sizes is really considerate as not everyone can eat the same size meal, or you may have a different appetite at different times. Imagine if clothing came in the one size only! Once you have ordered, the pho is delivered to your table within minutes - bowls of steaming flavoursome soup.

We ordered Large Beef and Tendon, Medium Beef and Tendon, Medium Beef and Small Shredded Chicken. The soup in the beef pho tastes different to the soup in the chicken pho. Both have a rich flavour but the beef pho is sweeter while the chicken pho is saltier. The beef is lean and cooks nicely in the steaming soup. The pho here is clear. I also like that it is not oily. The slippery white rice noodles are not overcooked. There is a plate of bean shoots, Vietnamese mint and lemon wedges for sharing at the table. They are happy to provide more if requested.

There are glasses of cut chillies at each table. Be warned.  I tried the soup with and without chillies, and believe me, these chillies turn the soup into pho with a punch.

We also ordered the prawn spring rolls (6 for $8). These came with a small stack of neatly cut lettuce leaves for wrapping the spring rolls in, and a small bowl of dipping sauce. The spring rolls were OK, not outstanding but a nice crunchy contrast to the soupy pho.

This place also has a good sense of humour. I like their WTP tees. Okay, I meant What The Pho (see pho -to)!

We enjoyed our meal and would definitely come back again to Pho Chu The. There are also several other restaurants here we would like to try. If only it was easier to find a parking spot!

Front of the Restaurant

Menu on the Wall

Clockwise from Top Left
- Large, Medium, Medium, Small

Small Shredded Chicken Pho
Medium Beef Pho

 Large Beef & Tendon Pho
Medium Beef & Tendon Pho

 Prawn Spring Rolls


Busy inside the Restaurant


  1. Ferdinand White12 July 2012 at 17:07

    Best pho in melbourne I think...

    1. Hi Ferdinand,

      I can safely say it is right up there with the best! Leaving a bit of wriggle room, just in case, as I’m still on my journey to try more of Melbourne’s pho. If someone comes to Melbourne and says “Show me how well Melbourne can do pho”, I would have no hesitation in taking them to Pho Chu The.