It is apparent that one of the hottest things this winter is to warm up and nourish your soul with a steaming bowl of Vietnamese beef soup. While laksa has had its time in the sun, it seems its now time for pho to shine and get its much deserved kudos.
If you dont know what pho is, then I wont give you a history lesson – thats what Wikipedia is for after all. However in essence, pho is a soup consisting of a beef based broth, simmered with a selection of spices and served with rice noodles, sliced onion, chilli, herbs and some other condiments. It is served steaming hot with thin slices of beef, which may be raw or cooked, as well as other variations around this.
The end result is a clear broth with an immense depth of flavour swirling around the noodles, beef and other ingredients. Each bowl of pho is entirely customised by the person eating it though, as they can adjust various flavours through the addition of different amounts of herbs, spices and other seasonings.
Pho is a bit of an institution these days, and when the weather is cold and the broth is spot on, there can be few other things as satisfying and effective at banishing the winter blues away. For a workday lunch, pho really does take some beating.
To this end, and in no particular order, gathered below is a short list of some of the best places in the CBD to be able to pick up an amazing bowl of pho. Everyone will have their favourites, and it really is only scratching the surface of what is around all of Adelaide (or indeed the CBD), but we have to start somewhere! If there are any that have been missed that simply have to be tried, then please let it be known in the comments.
Started by former part owners of Thanh Thanh, Adelaide Pho is located in the west end of the CBD, not far from Light Square on Waymouth Street. As its name would suggest, pho is front and centre of what they offer up, and it is a dish they do very well indeed. Its not a fancy place by any stretch, but the quality of their food is beyond question.
Aside from the excellent pho, the rest of the mains are split between ‘Noodle with Chicken Broth’, ‘Vermicelli’, ‘Rice Dishes’, ‘Wok-Fried Noodles’, and ‘Wok Stir-Fried Dishes’. While most of the menu is Vietnamese, there are a few Chinese dishes listed here too. There are also a large selection of entree’s to choose from.
Adelaide Pho offer up quick service, delicious pho, generous serves and low prices. Not much else you could ask for really.
The similarity between the menu’s of Adelaide Pho, Thanh Thanh and Pho SA is no coincidence, as there is a link in the background of all three. However rather than look at this as a negative, consider that it gives you even more options to enjoy delicious Vietnamese Cuisine.
The pho here is excellent, with a generous amount of beautifully fresh herbs and condiments offered to customise your pho experience. Their bo bun hue is deliciously spicy if you want something a bit more intense, and their dim sims are truly delicious.
The main difference here is the building itself is quite a bit nicer than the other three mentioned previously, being located where Banana Leaf restaurant used to be on Currie Street. The fresh lemon soda is also fantastic here – arguably the best in town and something that must be tried.
Thanh Thanh had been mentioned to me by a few people as THE place to go and try pho, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The place itself, tucked away on Field Street just south of Chinatown looks inauspicious, but once you are inside and the food is presented, things swiftly change.
The pho here is up with the very best. The broth is perhaps a little more subtle, a little less salty, but packing a good hit and depth of flavour. The noodles were definitely the best I have had around Adelaide, but the real hero was the beef. Using Angas beef, this was beautifully thin, perfectly poached in the hot broth and just absolutely delicious.
They have an extensive list of other things, but overlooking their Pho Tai will take some doing. This is Vietnamese food done right.
Thanh Thanh can be found at 18 Field Street, Adelaide.
Situated in the hustle and bustle of James Place off Rundle Mall, Mr Viet is a little hole in the wall Vietnamese eatery that has quite a following for its pho. When you see it come out, beautifully clear and aromatic, with the slivers of raw beef cooking in the stemy broth, it certainly looks the part. Flavour-wise it doesn’t disappoint either!
They have a beer and pho deal too, which means for $13 you get a large bowl of pho and a pint of their ‘own’ beer. Rearranging your lunch plans for tomorrow? I thought so.
Mr Viet also have bao’s, cold rolls and some other things to tempt your taste buds, should you so desire.Mr Viet is located at 20 James Place, Adelaide.
The newest player amongst this group, Phonatic has been serving their Vietnamese cuisine since around mid 2015. They proclaim that they “make the best pho”, and to my palate it definitely deserves its place at this table!
They have two particular point of difference – offering sliced wagyu beef as a beef option (for a $3 premium over their ‘normal’ pho); and the venue itself more resembles a cool, slightly off-centre cocktail bar than an Asian eatery.
This is a very well designed and executed new place, and is a most welcome addition to the pho and Vietnamese options in the CBD. They are located at 171 Hindley Street.
Sit Lo has been dishing out their pho for the last few years now – 2014 to be precise – as proclaimed on the large signage in their Bank Street hole-in-the-wall eatery. This place exudes charm and character, and you will always find a steady stream of people eating in or taking away their delicious products.
The pho has an amazing broth here, with an great depth of flavour that seems particularly ‘layered’ – you can pick out various distinct flavours in there but they all come together wonderfully.
You don’t get the same customisation as the others – no bowl of herbs, lemon wedges and other additions here for you to add. However when it comes out this good, there really isn’t any need! At $10 for a large serve, this is also great value. Sit Lo also have some amazing bao’s (Vietnamese steamed buns) that must not be missed.
Sit Lo are located at 30 Bank Street, Adelaide.
As I said previously – if there are any others around the city that simply must be tried, then please get in contact and advise. I am always looking for something new to go and sample, and pho is just a bonus drawcard!