Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pho Chu The, Richmond (Melbourne)

I asked a Vietnamese friend of mine what is the best place in Australia for Beef Pho (or Traditional Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).  Categorically, they stated Chu The in Melbourne.  Whilst there are a few branches of Chu The in Melbourne, one of the one that seems the most proper to go to (and is very often packed) is the one in the heart of one of the Vietnamese/Chinese-Vietnamese centres of Melbourne - Richmond.  When you go in and see the amount of Vietnamese/Chinese-Vietnamese people inside, surely something must be right?

Pho Chu The - Richmond

The restaurant works on turnover, and for prices in between $7-9 (depending on serving size ) you would think so.  The interior is very typical of a Vietnamese Pho establishment: Simple tables and chairs to maximise patronage; An assortment of sauces, pre-prepared tea in flasks, and dispensers for cutlery and napkins on the table; And menus and various notices in Vietnamese.  Chu The is not a place where you enjoy a long drawn out meal.

Chu The is a true Pho restaurant and accordingly a true Vietnamese restaurant unlike a lot of "Vietnamese" restaurants that serve all sorts of Asian food under the "Vietnamese cuisine" banner.  Aside from a few dishes or specials, it only really sells Pho and an assortment of drinks including Vietnamese drinks (including those that look like they contain beans, jellies, coconut etc).  Whilst Pho is the staple and most popular dish, Chu The offers just about every different Pho there is - ranging from beef to chicken, to tripe and mixes of all sorts of variations and inclusions of meat each giving their own distinct individual flavour and soup base.  I have found from experience that my favourite is the plain Raw Beef Pho.

Raw Beef Pho - $9 for large

The Raw Beef Pho comes out in either a small, medium or large serving size.  The bowl is filled with soup, house-made rice based noodles, thinly sliced raw beef (that cooks as you put it in the hot soup), and topped with spring onion.  On a side dish raw bean sprouts (or if you prefer them softer you can request they dip these into hot water first), lemon, mint and chillies are provided for you to add to your Pho.  This method lets you add your own desired quantity of each additional ingredient to your liking - great concept!  For the fire-eaters and dare-devils amongst you the fresh chillies are pretty hot (too hot for me to put any significant amount in) and if that's not enough you can add the chilli sauce to help you sweat even more.

So what makes Chu The so good?  It's all in the soup.  The soup base of the Raw Beef Pho I had was very flavoursome as far as Pho goes.  So much so that I want to drink the whole bowl of soup - and that is even without the addition of copious amounts of fat that can be added into soups with cream or coconut milk.  Saying that, I suspect the soup base involves many hours of simmering a large pot full of bones and various other secret ingredients to get it to taste the way it does.

Whilst I prefer Raw Beef Pho, I am told that the Chicken Pho (which comes with a completely different soup base) is also very good.  And if you like your other combinations of Pho or if you're game for it, Chu The will probably have something for you.

In summary, if you like Pho I recommend you try Chu The if you get the chance.  If you haven't tried Pho before and are in the area, Chu The wouldn't be a bad place to decide whether you like it or not.  For prices in the vicinity of $7-9 it's pretty good value and you have little to lose.

Points of note:  Authentic Vietnamese Pho.  Typical quick and simple meal and environment.

Go for: Really good Pho and a good price!

Pho Chu The
270 Victoria Street
Richmond VIC 3121
(03) 9427 7749


Anonymous said...

I ate there once at it was quite good. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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filipino girls said...

I am a Pho enthusiast and have eaten Pho in several countries, including America and Vietnam. My cousin goes on to say that this Pho is a lot better than any she has back at home in the States. So we walked down (from inner Melbourne CBD, quite the walk!) and found ourselves in Victoria Street, Richmond. It reminded me of Cabramatta as it was full of Asian restaurants, shops and butcheries with so many Pho options! When we finally arrived, the place was busy but not packed out like some of the places we passed. It was also quite modern and neat. We had friendly wait staff greet and serve us.