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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pho An, Bankstown

pho close-up

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.

basil and sprouts

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 large
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.

pho, dressed and ready

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 remnants

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)

12 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 1/02/2007 06:35:00 pm


12 Comments:

  • At 1/02/2007 9:03 pm, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    I think Pho Anh is my favourite place for Pho in Sydney. Having said that i think it's crazy they charge almost $12 for a bowl of pho....still we keep coming back.

     
  • At 1/02/2007 10:13 pm, Blogger The Skumbag said…

    mmMMmm. I can't believe you finished the large... and practically all the soup! As good as it is... that's fantastic :)

     
  • At 1/02/2007 11:18 pm, Blogger papa lazarou said…

    only been there once (cos i wouldnt pay $12 for a pho)... yeh, i usually have alot of soup from my pho dac biet left over, because i've already stuffed my face with spring rolls, and ice coffee...

     
  • At 1/03/2007 12:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    pho sizzle my nizzle, try the vietnamese restaurant in the main drag at Campsie (Quot Bienh (sp))for even better broth- debatable of course. Regardless, An is an institution pho sure.

     
  • At 1/03/2007 12:28 am, Anonymous Ellie said…

    I absolutely love my pho, and as you said, find it's a marvellous dish to have when I'm sick or hungover! That warming, soothing broth should be known to all!

     
  • At 1/03/2007 9:08 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Mother reckons it is not as good as it use to be. All the same to me.

    It definitely hits the spot when you need a pick me up.

    Why can't they specialise in pho and still do entrees.

    You gotta love Asian service!

     
  • At 1/03/2007 11:59 am, Anonymous TOASTMAN said…

    $12 is about the most expensive I've heard of in Syndey (though, hell yeah, I'd pay it!). Going rate in Chinatown is $7 or so. What's the place like in general? Upmarket or foodcourt?

    I go to the Vietnamese place in the Sussex Centre foodcourt (upstairs, you know the one), mostly because it's close, cheap and does rice paper rolls / fried treats etc.

     
  • At 1/03/2007 1:14 pm, Blogger Yvo said…

    Oh man oh man... it's always your Asian food posts that really get me. Probably because I've been slowly weaned off it (even though I'm technically walking distance of Chinatown here, I rarely get out that way; something about intolerance for tourists and slow people... yes, it's the NY in me).... My throat is aching today, despite two cups of tea already. Pho would be such the sweet relief right now, but alas... t'will not be :(

    Beautiful pictures!

    PS Pho is around $4-5, maybe $6 here if you get the extra large. And if you're in the more Asian or Asian catered 'hoods- in certain areas, like Midtown Manhattan, I think it can run you $10 or so which is outrageous. And it sucks over there, from my understanding. OH and I just read that you've rung in the new year before in Times Square?! I've lived here all my life and still haven't been! This year was the last year I thought I could do it, next year I'll be far too crotchety to bother with the mounds of people (I don't like crowds, somewhat of a phobia actually). Ah well. :) And the Sydney NYE pics are gorgeous.

     
  • At 1/03/2007 7:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ditto Veruca; there's a lot of word of mouth that it's not as good as it used to be - $12 is also very steep for Pho.

    Haven't been there in a while (~2yrs) but last time I was there, the meat and vege garnishes were pretty plain and ordinary. As someone has said before, An is an instituion but there is better.

     
  • At 1/03/2007 10:19 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Pickles - Yeah $12 is rather steep, but as you point out, people keep paying it happily.

    Hi skumbag - [lol. I feel so rude addressing you like that] It was quite a task, and yes, I was rather proud I got that far :)

    Hi papa lazarou - It's only pho at Pho Anh so there's no handicap here. lol. I usually like to accompany my pho with a che ba mau but that day it was only tea. Thank goodness.

    Hi Anon - I'll have to check Quot Bienh out. That's not too pho from me at all. lol

    Hi Ellie - Pho is always my fallback dish when I'm feeling poorly. Such goodness in every mouthful.

    Hi Veruca Salt - I think that's always the danger of fame. You're never as good as people think you used to be.

    The increase in business size must also have some impact on quality control too, surely.

    Hi toastman - Pho Anh is probably one of the nicest looking restaurants in Bankstown. They have air-conditioning, and a sliding door that operates on motion-detection!

    And yes I do know Saigon Pho which has long been one of my favourites. The friendly smiling man behind the counter has been there for 10+ years. And it is super cheap, and such generous portions.

    Hi Yvo - I love my Asian cuisine. It's one of the first things I miss whenever I'm overseas.

    Yes I spent NYE in 2005 shivering in Times Square. It was an experience that's for sure, but I'm so glad I did it. It had been on my "things to do before I die" list so it was great to finally cross it off.

    Hi Anon - I find the soup base at Pho Anh is sweeter than others, but I think the price point is part of the appeal - it's certainly stop hindering business!

     
  • At 1/29/2007 12:32 am, Anonymous minx said…

    Helen, this is my fave place for Pho in Sydney, if not in the world (as I've never been to Vietnam yet).

    Me and my boyfriend has to come here every week because he's a Pho Anh addict. If he doesn't get his weekly 'dose' of Pho Anh, he can go crazy and suggest Pho at every meal time!

    We reckon that on some days like weekdays, the Pho might tastes better (the soup taste better) as we find during peak days such as Saturday & Sunday, they might also put less meat, etc. And one last thing, I like their satay sauce/chilli oil!

     
  • At 2/02/2007 4:06 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Minx - Wow. That's a big call. And I have had the pho in Vietnam - it's wonderfully cheap but I find ours are much stronger in flavour and meatier too! :)

    I love that chilli satay as well. It's so addictive!

     

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