I love Vietnamese food, especially Phở which is a type of rice noodle in a deeply flavoured broth that was cooked for many hours using beef bones, fresh onions and spices. I used to eat pho so much with my family (we went to Springvale every weekend) that we, at some point, thought they put drugs in the soup to make people addicted to them. No kidding. Every time I ate a bowl, I’d be craving for it again a few days later. Seriously, it was like an illness! Obviously, the reason we liked it so much was because it tasted so good, not because of drugs.
There are many areas in Melbourne that are mainly occupied by the Vietnamese population so naturally these areas have an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants and also Asian grocery stores and fresh food markets. The one we always go to is Springvale as we live quite close, but we sometimes also go to Richmond and not as often, Footscray. In Springvale, as we always park in the same area, we tend to also go to the same restaurant – Pho Hoang Dakao – for a quick bite before grocery shopping. Pho Hoang Dakao is a bit bigger than a lot of other restaurants in the area for around the same price and they have quite an extensive menu if you don’t feel like noodles.
|Small fresh sliced beef pho – $7.50|
There are many types of pho, the most popular and common would be the fresh sliced beef which is what I always order. This dish is served with very thinly cut raw beef placed on top and the point is to slowly cook the beef in the soup so that it’s not overcooked and still taste fresh and tender. It is also topped with fresh onions, coriander and spring onions. Of course, there are many other types available such as chicken, beef tendon and so forth or even rice dishes or spring rolls if you prefer. I used to always get spring rolls to go with my pho but found I was always too bloated at the end so no spring rolls this time.
After you make your order (if you chose pho), the waiter will bring out a plate of raw bean shoots which you have the choice of adding to your pho broth, plus fresh chillies, lemon and Vietnamese basil. There are of course also hoisin sauce, chilli oil, chilli sauce and fish sauce available on each table if you feel you need to add more flavour and punch to the dish. I usually add a bit of chilli sauce (from the bottle) as well as fresh chillies and a LOT of lemon juice. I love sour things so I usually add so much lemon to my soup that Yuye complains and refuses to finish my dish if I can’t finish it myself. I also use the small dish that holds the fresh chillies and mix a hoisin plus chilli sauce to dip my beef in. That is how I eat my pho but you can eat it however suits your taste.
|Bean shoots and Vietnamese basil to put in the soup|
I find Pho Hoang Dakao to be fairly consistent with food quality not like some other restaurants in Springvale. The sizes have also stayed about the same – a small for $7.50 and a large is $8.50 and they give you quite a bit of fresh beef and noodles. The menu only lists $8.50 which is what you’ll be given if you don’t specify a small. I have seen some complaints about service which I don’t totally disagree with, however, we must keep in mind that we are dining in a cheap Asian restaurant so service quality can’t be entirely up there. I’ve also never personally been treated less than average, especially when I always ask for cooked bean shoots (I don’t really like the taste of raw ones) and extra lemons which are usually done fairly quickly. And of course, the taste of the soup is superb. Very beefy and seasoned, it’s the soul reason I love eating pho.
That day for lunch, Yuye also ordered a jackfruit juice ($3.50). I admit I’ve never had fresh jackfruit before. I always thought they looked similar to durian and as durians are not my favourite thing in the world to eat, I tend to stay away from jackfruit as well. Very childish of me I know. So I was a bit cautious when I tasted the jackfruit juice but to my surprise, it was actually quite nice and tasted nothing like durian. It was sweet and slightly like banana. However, the colour scared me a little. It was so intensely yellow that it looked almost artificial.
|Jack fruit juice – $3.50|
There are obviously many choices if you’re looking for a Vietnamese restaurant in Springvale or other Vietnamese occupied suburbs. I just like Pho Hoang Dakao for the convenience (close to the car park) and the noodles really do taste good. The food are about the same price (always very cheap) at most Vietnamese restaurants in those areas so food quality and menu selections are the things that will set them apart.
You normally don’t have to book as there are usually tables available, and meals are consumed fairly quickly so waiting shouldn’t take long anyway.
Pho Hoang Dakao
Phone: (03) 9558 5996
17 Balmoral Ave
Springvale VIC 3171