Pho at Pho Tam

1/7-9 Leeds St, Footscray
Phone: 9687 2680

Now I know I’ve reviewed this place before, but after some buzz from various other bloggers, I thought I should give it another shot, and more specifically, try their pho. After all, the place is called Pho Tam. So you’d hope that pho would be their signature dish.

The previous time I’d been in, it was a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the place was in that slack caretaker mode which drops over a lot of restaurants after the lunch rush ends, like the food coma which hits you after a satisfyingly carb-laden lunch. This time around, I was in on a late Saturday morning, just pipping the lunch crowd. I thought I’d eat before doing my grocery shopping at the nearby Little Saigon market, though clearly most people do it the other way around, judging by the laden carts and shopping bags people hauled in with them.

I had a bit of a hangover that morning – which is becoming an unsettling trend – so what that usually means for me is I want more offal in my pho. Liver and tongue, in particular. Unfortunately, in my years of living back in Australia, my Vietnamese has dropped off considerably, and I don’t really remember how to ask for extras. I suppose I could just ask in English, but there’s some pride at stake!

Anyway, I deviated from my usual, and ordered the pho bo ga dac biet. Regular readers will know that I usually eschew the ga (chicken) when it comes to pho, unless I’m sick. But being hung over is somewhat like being ill, so run with me here.

The bowl is heavily laden with all sorts of wonderful offal, from beef tripe, tongue and tendon, to chicken hearts and liver. Of course, there’s also some beef and chicken in there, but who cares about the flesh, when there are organs to be had, really? Surprisingly, there was no cube of congealed pig’s blood; a regular guest star in a pho ga dac biet. Perhaps it would be too much iron in a bowl already heaving with both chicken and cow bits.
The broth was pretty amazing. Not overly noticeable MSG, and not too sweet, though there was a definite umami kick. The spices were also definitely there, but they weren’t too in your face. I’m not a broth drinker, unlike some pho connoisseurs, but I almost polished off all of this bowl. We’re talking a seriously good broth this morning. I have heard, however, that they can be a bit inconsistent with their broth, so perhaps I was just very lucky. Or my hangover may also have clouded my judgement, but still, it was delectable.
To finish it off, and to put a kick into my day, I had a ca phe sua da. Nothing says bliss like equal parts coffee and condensed milk.
So in summary, if you’re going to Pho Tam, I recommend you try the pho. Who woulda thunk it, right?
Pho Tam on Urbanspoon

Pho Tam

1/7-9 Leeds St
Phone: (03) 9687 2680

This is a pretty typical Vietnamese restaurant in Footscray. And I know it’s bad practice to post a negative review based on one visit, but it was pretty average. The food was OK – I had the com tam dac biet (broken rice special – with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, fried egg and steamed egg pate). The rice was quite obvously reheated, the pork chop was a little tough, and the pate didn’t have enough pepper in it for my liking.

The lady running front of house – I think she was the owner – seemed more intent on chatting on the phone than remembering to bring me my lemon soda. It finally arrived after I asked again for it, and as I was finishing my meal.

Like I said, it’s probably not all that fair – they might have been short-staffed or having an off day – but this place was pretty average. And in an area with such a high density of good Vietnamese restaurants, being average is pretty poor, really.

Pho Tam on Urbanspoon