After a slightly disappointing experience at Mama Tran in the city, we soon realised that there was something going on with the Vietnamese cuisine image. While you had your typical Vietnamese place with the bad service, old 90s décor and fluoro chopsticks, new outlets were opening up around the city with fancy pants service, stylish new décor and trendy names like iPho and What the Pho?. Good on them for trying to modernise and funkify Vietnamese cuisine, but we still think the good, old fashioned way is best – neon lights, clashing colours, and terrible background music featuring covers from Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand.
We were meeting up with an old Melbourne drinking buddy and his girlfriend. After a brief catch up, the waitress was over with a notepad to take our orders. The menu had numbers and lots of pictures to make ordering extra easy.
The wait wasn’t long at all. First up were fried wontons with a creamy mayonnaise sauce and pork spring rolls with a light dipping sauce. Juz reckons the yummy wonton skins might have had curry powder in them, while the pork spring rolls were full of stuffing, fresh and delicious.
Juz got the beef pho and it was satisfactory. The cloudy broth was dominated by flavours of cinnamon and cloves and had a thin slick of oil on the top. It was deliciously flavoursome and went well with the fresh mint leaves that were provided with the green chilli, lemon and bean sprouts. The noodles were a little too soft to be al dente but were still silky and scrumptious. Dave’s choice was an egg noodle soup with a side of grilled pork. Dave thought the grilled pork was amazing and completely overshadowed the Chinese egg noodle soup.
At the end, we ordered a three colour drink and ice cream with sticky taro rice to share. The three colour drink was cool and refreshing, with sweet coconut poured over jelly pieces, red kidney beans and split mung beans – YUM! The sticky taro rice that came with the ice cream was sticky and sweet and reminded Juz of pudding.
We walked out of Phong Vinh fully satisfied and still with a bit of money to go to the pub and grab a beer. You can always count on a traditional Vietnamese restaurant to give you a good feed for your dollar.