(beef pho – with sliced rare beef $7.5 S, $8.5m M $9.5L)
I’m not too sure if I have mentioned this a few times already, but I love pho – the famous Vietnamese staple of rice noodles in beef (or chicken) broth. I can eat it three times a day (in fact I have had three bowls of pho in the past two days). Before I get into the pho philosophy, which I will have to write about one of these days, let’s just stick to the review of Pho 888.
(pho condiment – sliced chilli, lemon, beansprouts and Thai basil)
In short, Pho 888 is my second favourite pho joint in Melbourne. It’s the one we visit most often because it’s a 10 minute drive from our house so we end up there a lot. To me, a good pho has to have a good, well balanced soup, silky fresh rice noodles (using dried rice stick, personally, is a deal breaker), tender pieces of meat. Pho 888 ticks all the boxes.
(three-coloured drink – $3)
Most recently, we ended up there last Saturday when it was almost 30’c and I didn’t feel like cooking. Walking into air-conditioned Pho 888 was a bit of a godsend. I quickly ordered the eternal Vietnamese favourite drink – the three-coloured drink. It was basically boiled kidney beans, mung bean paste, green sweet noodle in syrup and covered in coconut milk. It was sweet and refreshing. I’m sure it’s meant to be a dessert, but hey it was a hot day.
The menu was relatively limited. I mean, let’s face it, it’s a pho joint. You go there for pho – either chicken soup or beef soup. There were a few rice dishes (your usual broken rice, fried chicken with tomato rice, grilled lemongrass chicken, Vietnamese spring rolls) and a few drinks – but the pho here is the shining star. I suppose that’s why the place is called Pho 888 and not Broken Rice 888.
I ordered the rare sliced beef, which were pieces of raw beef placed over a bed of noodles with boiling hot broth ladled over them, which cooks them. It was perfect. Sure you could order the special: with tripe, meatballs, etc. And I do order them once in a while, but these come and go. To me, the rare beef always tops the charge (hence it being called ‘number 1’ at most pho restaurant).
(chicken pho – with sliced chicken breast)
Josh went for the chicken equivalent, which was sliced chicken breast (which was well cooked through unlike the beef). He loved it of course. He isn’t much of an offal fan so he wouldn’t go for others. Personally, the only place in Melbourne that does chicken pho better than beef pho is Mekong. To me, beef over chicken anytime.
I don’t really like to add anything to my pho – not even the basil or the beansprouts. Especially not chilli sauce and hoisin sauce. I believe the broth needs to be treated with respect. Sometimes I would add the chilli to give it heat but it’s the only ingredient that doesn’t mask the stock flavour. Josh likes his with a bit of basil and lemon and we both like to nibble on the beansprouts but never add it to the soup.
And I always finish my soup.
Pho 888 Box Hill, 552 Station Street, Box Hill VIC