Pho Hung Vietnamese Kitchen
Level 2, Westfield Garden City (Brisbane)
9am to 9pm Mon-Sun
unlicensed, Cash & Cards
Pho Hung is one of the great new additions to Westfield Garden City’s hearty mix of an alfresco street level dining precinct with a host of eateries offering a combination of indoor (air-conditioned, thank God for us) and outdoor seating options. This was a Vietnamese place that caught us quite by surprise as we were originally wanting to sample the modern-Japanese Motto Motto which faced directly across from the bustling trade Pho Hung was enjoying on that busy Sunday afternoon lunch hour. When you’re hungry and your kids are whingeing it wasn’t hard to choose between waiting another 20 minutes or more for a table at Motto Motto or plonking your bums down quickly on newly vacated seats at tiny but sprightly-decorated Pho Hung.
It was a bonus that our haste to stay alive with Asian food of any kind was pleasantly rewarded with some decent authentic Vietnamese staples—we were quite pleased with the steaming bowls of traditional Pho Tai (raw beef slices on noodle soup), a more expensive option than in rustic Inala at A$12, but a small price really for the comfort of being in a shopping mall and undercover parking in stinking hot summers. The pho stock was robust enough with a rather good balance of sweet-savoury-sour herbal and hearty soul. The beef slices were fresh, mild-tasting and thank God without any of that sometimes unappetising meat odours (my pet peeve) you can get sometimes from some cuts of beef, lamb or pork. They passed my next test yet again with another favourite dish of mine: the Rice Vermicelli Salad ($15.90—after selecting my combo of sugarcane prawn & spring rolls) was pretty good once I drenched a good house blend of their sugared fish sauce dressing over the well-seasoned grilled cakes of savoury sugar cane prawn cakes with the crisp green lettuce, freshly sliced cucumbers and sweet carrots and tossed the lot with my chopsticks, not forgetting the generous sprinkle of coarsely ground peanuts and sprigs of mint, before taking my first bite.
“Mmm, try this,” I beckoned to my other half who was very preoccupied with slurping his Pho but nodded appreciatively once I spooned a fork of the vermicelli salad into his mouth while he kept chewing and pointing to the deep fried Vegetable Spring Rolls (A$7.50/4 pcs) while making a thumbs up with his other hand. Their rice rolls are the traditional pork mince with cooked prawn combi ($7.50/3 pcs) but we had to skip these fresh hand-rolled rice rolls as they did not offer my poor non-pork-loving husband the option of a porkless solution to his other love (I suspect could be the only downside to us coming back). Service was pleasant without exaggeration and the food arrived quickly enough. The traditional iced Vietnamese drip coffee sweetened with condensed milk had some real oomph to it and really popped my eyes open after so much to eat. The beauty of getting your Viet fix here is also the draw of retail therapy dangerously close by, cinemas and Toys R Us for some very happy munchkins who came alive again after being well-fed. Gotta run, a family with whingeing kids and frazzled-looking parents are now eyeing our table. We know what that’s like because that was us right there about 40 minutes ago.
Notes:There’s actually a traditional, ‘less trendy than this’ Pho Hung in Market Square at Sunnybank. We think they do much better food than this one at Garden City at lower prices but nevertheless it’s handy to have them placed at Garden City in a mall setting when the last thing you want is a bad Asian lunch, again! You may want to check out our review on Kim Son next