Wednesday, November 26, 2014


656 Little Bourke Street
VIC 3000

On the corner of Spencer Street and Little Bourke Street, opposite Southern Cross Station Pho24 is tucked in at the base of a new high rise.

I'd been invited with other food bloggers to try a range of dishes, meet the owners and hear the story behind the venue.

Andrew one of the two co-owners greeted us along with Libby from Two Birds Talking.

Our table, as I was riding my bike and as the roads were wet, I had to steer clear of the wine on offer!

Pho24 started in Vietnam 10 years ago and has already spread to five other asian countries, Craig the other co-founder of the Australian business came across the chain several years ago and was convinced it was a great fit for Australia, with a focus here on suiting and educating the local palate, great quick service and healthy dishes. The target market is much broader than Footscray residents who already have a love of Vietnamese food!

The first plate offered samples of chicken, pork and smoked barramundi rice paper rolls, the latter being the stand out for me, bringing a really different spin to a couple of favourites of mine.

The chilli baby octopus salad was up next, eaten san-choy-bow style in a lettuce leaf... The sauce packed a big kick and worked well with the octopus.

The open steamed pork bun with chilli sauce is a local adaption and is certainly packed with oodles of flavour.

The prawn spring rolls were well executed and perhaps the dish most similar to those I get regularly close to home.

The smoked paprika pork Banh mi was also stuffed with pâté, mayonnaise, cucumber, coriander, mint, pickled carrots and radish, fried shallots, chilli and dressing. The rich smoky and meaty flavours shone through well matched with the salad and herbs.

Next it was up to the counter to experience the newly patented, rapid pho assembly line, first after ordering the noodles which have already been weighed out are heated and added to the bowl.

The protein and veggies came next... followed by the stock from the large tanks.

I opted for the smoked barramundi pho, keen to try a different spin on the dish.  It had a very different feel to my normal favourite of a chicken based pho. I balanced the smokiness with a couple of squeezed lemon wedges and all the components worked well together, and I got through the regular sized bowl in no time. It has to be said that the sizes are a bit smaller than in Footscray, with the large here about the same size as a medium elsewhere.

We ended our meal with a moist and gooey taro pudding, which although new to me, felt like comfort food.

Craig then took us on a tour of the open kitchen.  Here he is showing the banh mi and pho production zone.

All the meat is cooked sous vide retaining moisture and flavour, which also assists with maintaining the consistency their processes strive for.

Their pâté is also vaccuum sealed and slow cooked resulting in a rich flavour and super smooth texture.

The stock vessels, with their beer style taps at the bottom.

The spice storage zone above the kitchen.

It was a fascinating evening hearing about the launch of an international restaurant brand into the local market. It has already been quite a journey to get where they are today, including adapting the original broth recipe made by the executive chefs brought over from Vietnam for the opening. This isn't an old school Vietnamese Australian pho joint you find in Footscray or Richmond, but if you are after something a bit different, with a fusion of flavours and techniques Pho24 is worth a visit. It's also a good place to introduce newcomers to a range of Vietnamese dishes in a modern, friendly environment. The speed a bowl of pho is put together is impressive in itself!

Pho24 on Urbanspoon

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