Everyone has their own favourite pho joint in Melbourne, whether it’s located in one of the hot spots of Richmond, Footscray or Springvale, or one of the many outposts dotted around the city.
Each venue serving pho nam (the version of the dish we are most used to eating in Melbourne) has a unique perspective on the mix of slippery noodles, citrus, leaves, veg and meat (usually chicken or beef). If you're willing to stray from your go-to for a pho-fix, here are five to try.
Its mission statement is “to serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week” – and it’s already mission accomplished for I Love Pho. Fans of its layered, complex-flavoured pho return to the Richmond shop, or to I Love Pho Express in CBD development, Emporium. We love the pho with brisket, thinly sliced, soaking in that elusive broth.
264 Victoria Street, Richmond
(03) 9427 7749
Emporium, level 3 food court, Shop 355
287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 8609 8119
There’s 17 varieties of pho at this tiny shop at the city end of Lygon Street. It’s unlicensed and cash only, so come prepared. The combination pho, with chicken and beef, seems to be on most tables in the dining room, but there’s a few vegetarian options, too, all with fresh mint, bean shoots and chunks of chilli.
106 Lygon Street, Carlton
(03) 9654 9653
Pho Chu The
This place has been serving bowls of steaming pho since 1989, and, if you like going down the offal path, there is a hefty selection here. Sliced beef pho with earthy tripe, or with the chewy addition of cartilage, are menu staples. The chicken pho with livers and giblets is a glorious juxtaposition of viscid meats, slick noodles and clear, full-flavoured broth.
270 Victoria Street, Richmond
(03) 9428 7797
South Melbourne’s hub of broth and noodles, Wat Da Pho, serves authentic soupy, slurpy pho in a smart urban space. There are also beef and chicken skewers and rice paper rolls. The pho has layers of flavour, from the subtle broth to the sturdy-soft noodles, the meats – offal, chicken and beef – and a good vegetarian option that is meaty with a jumble of assorted mushrooms.
212 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne
(03) 9696 5605
Chef Jerry Mai and her brother David have brought great pho to the shoppers of Melbourne. In the ground level of CBD behemoth, Emporium Melbourne, the siblings opened Pho Nom and have queues most lunch times for their aromatic, heady pho. The rich broth, made from Jerry and David’s mother’s recipe, is an intense noodle soup made with great local ingredients – including Warialda beef, Milawa free-range poultry and Sher Wagyu. Spice it up or down to your liking with lemon, chilli and Thai basil.
Emporium, lower ground, Store 33
287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
(03) 8609 8183
This article was updated on May 26, 2016.