Nothing gets between me and a craving. If i want ice cream in winter, I will damn well have it and suffer the consequences. And same goes for pho in 30 degree plus weather. I tie my hair back and dig in, what heat-stroke? Making good on my mission to eat every single pho on Victoria Street, we found ourselves at Pho Dzung Tan Dinh, more commonly known as the ‘cow and chicken place’. I enjoyed the city branch of pho dzung, so I was eager to see how the original stacked up.
The menu here would have most pho purists nodding in approval. It consists of little more than pho (served every way under the sun, naturally) and a selection of colourful drinks. There’s also a smattering of other traditional Vietnamese dishes such as broken rice, vermicelli, and spring rolls, for those whose tastes veer away from the nourishing beef noodle soup. But judging from how every table gets automatically given a plate of sprouts and Thai basil, there aren’t many people who stray far from the pho.
|Small Special Beef Pho ($7.5)|
I got my standard order of Small Special Beef Pho ($7.5), which came topped with rare slices of beef, beef balls, tendon, and tripe. The beef slices were tender and of a good cut, and the vegetables served on the side were clean and plentiful. But the real star of the show is the soup. A bit less sweet than most I’ve had, it’s ridiculously aromatic from hours of simmering, and the best part is that there’s little to no MSG in the soup, so you won’t feel sick from drinking it all up. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but I absolutely love the fragrance of Thai basil hitting the beef soup; it’s an invigorating promise of what’s to come.
|Grilled Chicken on Rice ($8.5)|
Chris, who bears a vendetta against pho, ordered the Grilled Chicken on Rice ($8.5). Despite being known as a hardcore pho eatery, this dish was actually rather excellent. A big juicy slab of chicken (boneless, to Chris' delight) was slapped onto a plate next to a mound of rice and a small vinegared salad. Take a bite of the sweet and tender chicken, follow it up with a mouthful of fluffy rice, top it off with a pinch of zesty salad, and I guarantee you’ll be in heaven. The fish sauce and the rather bland soup on the side went mostly untouched.
|Three Coloured Drink ($2.5)|
Hydration is important, especially on hot days. So instead of just having the complimentary tea, which was surprisingly fragrant, we also ordered a Three Coloured Drink ($2.5) to accompany our meal. Slippery strands of jelly and chewy sweet kidney beans are brought together by a liberal dousing of coconut milk, and topped with crushed ice. A drink that doubles as a dessert? How could you say no?
The service here is rather perfunctory, but the large chattering family sitting at the front making spring rolls, and the barefoot children running in and out of the kitchen with icy poles dangling out of their mouths lets you know that you’re in a genuine, family-run eatery. You know that their stock is simmered on site and that the vegetables are washed by hand. And it’s this sort of care that makes for one of the best pho Melbourne has to offer.
Rating: 14/20 – pho-tastic!