There are few things more satisfyingly nourishing than a bowl of Vietnamese pho.
A lake of the sweetest clear soup envelopes a huddle of slinky satin fresh rice noodles, your cavernous bowl highlighted by a small mound of beef and a handful of onion rings and aromatic herbs.
At Pho An in Bankstown, it's all about the pho. That's all that's on the menu, even if someone did confess to once asking a waiter "um, do you have deep-fried chicken wings?" The response was immediate: "No. Only pho. Pho only. Just pho."
And sure there are ten different ways you can have your beef pho (only five choices if you have chicken) but it's presumed you already know what you want, the waiter standing tetchily at your table as soon as you're seated. He seems a little incredulous when we say we need a few minutes, and it seems we've upset his whole Pavlovian routine since we have to concertedly wave him back over when we're finally ready to order.
Within thirty seconds of placing our order, a side plate of herbs clatters onto our table. A mountain of raw bean sprouts, a bushell of Thai basil and a whole lemon cut into quarters, await their sweet baptism of pho, ja? [sorry, couldn't resist]
Pho dac biet $11.80 large ($11.30 for small)
Pho topped with beef combination,
including rare beef, cooked beef, beef tendon and tripe
And within 90 seconds of placing our order, our pho arrives. Therein lies the beauty of a one-dish restaurant. Speed with freshness.
We push the rare beef slices deep into the soup, and while it's cooking we add handfuls of sprouts, Thai basil leaves and squeeze in the lemon. Purists prepare a mini dish of seafood sauce for dunking the meat, but I like to squeeze mine straight into the soup (it's the brown sauce that tastes like sweet hoisin). Add fiery slices of fresh chilli and a swirl of chilli sauce if you prefer.
Pho is the cure-all for sore throats, colds, flus, fatigue and of course hunger. The stock has been simmered for hours with bones, star anise, onions and garlic until it is rich in flavour and comforting in sweetness.
This dish, which sustains Vietnamese for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is light yet nourishing. A harmonious marriage of carbs and protein, with enough vegetables and herbs to get your blood pumping with glee.
And sure you may think that you cannot possibly finish this Magic Pudding-like bowl of neverending pho, but persist and you will be rewarded. You may have to waddle out the door, but you will be clutching a full belly that sloshes with happiness.
Pho An Restaurant
27 Greenfield Parade, Bankstown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9796 7826
Open 7 days, 7am - 9pm
Surcharge $1.50 per person on public holidays
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Pho An (September 2005)
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1/02/2007 06:35:00 pm