8 Whiteman St Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank
Phone: 9292 6989
After a heady High Tea at the Langham, followed by an afternoon of grazing at the Good Food and Wine Festival, I had a couple of hours to kill before meeting a friend for a movie at Crown. I will admit to being somewhat… tipsy… after the GFWF (you can’t turn down a shed full of winery stands offering tastings now, can you?). So tipsy, in fact, I wandered into Rockpool, and asked for a seat at the bar, thinking “Hey! I’ll finally get to try that wagyu burger!” only to be politely told by the hostess that they’d be happy to fit me in – at 6, when they open. It was apparently only 5:15. Oops!
So I thought I’d have a look at one of the restaurants in the casino itself (I know! Why!?) seeing as I’d been there years ago as a student, taking advantage of the gambling-subsidised food on offer. I stopped at Tia To, curious to see what Crown’s version of pho would be like. I mean there’s a hefty amount of Vietnamese problem-gamblers, right? Surely their tastes must be catered for…
I was heartened by the impressive array of condiments on the table.
And by the noodle-slurping Chinese men who were also eating pho at the next table (even though they were Mandarin speakers, so not likely to be experts in pho authenticity?)
Unfortunately, at this point in time, my phone decided to die on me. Which was not only devastating in terms of my inability to document the noodles about to arrive at my table, but also it made things difficult in terms of meeting my friend to see the movie afterwards!
So you get no pictures of the actual pho – which in some way defeats the purpose of this post; I know, right? – but trust me when I say it was rather underwhelming. The amount of basil which came with the beanshoots and lemon was on the stingy side. The broth was one-dimensional in flavour – that dimension was MSG. The beef was similarly bland. It’s a bad sign when the best thing in a bowl of pho are the ‘beef balls’. Because they’re almost certainly from a packet that you can buy from any Asian grocer.
This place serves a soup noodle which is something of a travesty against pho. I was left wishing I had ordered the seafood platter special, and consoling myself in the fact I had a $4 bottle of Carlsberg. The only other upside I can think of about this experience was that the service was really quite good.