Pho Chu The (Richmond)
Phở Chú Thể
270 Victoria St
Richmond, VIC 3121
I have eaten here about three to four times. Personally, I’m not a fan of phở. When I have a one dish Vietnamese meal, I prefer b Vietnamese food feels so healthy. It’s light and full of fresh vegetables and herbs and delicious grilled meats. Very salad-like and great for summer. My friends and I phở got us paradoxically wetter from sweating!
The food-blogosphere seems to think Phở Chú Thể serves pretty damn good phở. On that recommendation, I took my folks here last year and they quite enjoyed their meal. Dad is a purist and insists that lime should be used instead of lemon. And this was about the only phở joint that uses lime. Phở Chú Thể specialises in phở only, with nothing much else on the menu. The venue is small and the interior, basic. There is often a longish queue of people during lunch.
I ordered the phở bò đặc biệt (beef noodle soup with the lot, including tripe and tendons). phở should taste like. My point of comparison for Phở is Singapore’s Gu-bak Kway Teow (beef soup with flat rice noodles). But they’re actually quite different. Singapore beef noodles usually has a darker, full-bodied broth that’s less sweet than phở’s broth, and there is far less emphasis on herbs and fresh vegetables. I enjoy phở in its own right, appreciating bean sprouts and fresh herbs in a cloyingly sweet noodle soup.
It was a satisfying meal. The place was very muggy from rain and warmth and my glasses fogged up as I ate. It was like eating phở during monsoon season. The soup was served piping hot. It is important that the soup be served as hot as possible because the added fresh herbs and veg will cool it down. The beef ingredients in the soup were perfectly cooked and of very good quality and the herbs were fresh. The coveted jar of chilli oil is also very good here and tastes very nice when added to the soup. You just have to look around which table has it and then sniper it.
For food geeks, it’s the omasum. (Cow’s 3rd stomach)
Still, I have a few gripes. I wished the dish came with more varieties of herbs instead of just one. Also, they are using lemons now, dad would disapprove. The soup itself was mostly salty-sweet and not exactly that wholesomely flavourful. We all collectively thought that there was a fair amount MSG in the soup. It left us very thirsty after the meal. Maybe that’s why I prefer b
Having said all that, I still do think this remains one of the better phở places that I’ve eaten at in Melbourne. Does anyone know of comparably good, or better places?
PS: I’m proud that I’ve included the (hopefully) authentic alphabetical squigglies for the Vietnamese words in this post… :D