I felt inclined to name this my favourite Vietnamese restaurant after my first visit. I've tried a few of their dishes which don't fail to impress in terms of price, quantity and taste. Personally, the way I judge a Vietnamese restaurant is through its pho. If they don't do a good pho, I am skeptical. But still welcoming.
My particular bowl of Combination Beef Hofan Soup was no different to how I remembered it to be - generous, warming and filling. Combination beef really does means a combination of beef parts: different cuts of raw and cooked beef, tendon, omasum, balls...and starting to sound a tad sensual (or disgusting).
This contains pretty much ZERO vegetables besides spring onions, if that can be counted. It becomes a subconscious action of mine to load up my bowl with the bean sprouts provided just so it magically transforms into a nutritional meal.Beef stock is full of flavour but definitely doesn't leave the dry mouth feeling that MSG is so good for.
|Mi Bo Kho - $10.50|
As with most of their dishes, you are spoiled with the choice to switch between springy egg noodles, chewier rice noodles, rice vermicelli or if you get excited by smooth textures, hofan would best answer to that desire. Each noodley strand is a different texture from their shape, size and form - the variety to be expected from a "noodle house". So use your noggin and select your noodle :)
|Sinh To Bo - $5|
Very likely you'd think UGH! but I assure you it is very MMM! It's not a full on gluggy mashed up avocado made into a drink, but a lighter flavoured smoothie with a creamy consistency and similar to ice cream if it were more solid. I love avocados and I love ice cream so mathematically speaking, I love this. And I do.
I'd say it's like an avocado sundae, but then even I think that sounds revolting. So nah.
|Sinh To Sau Rieng - $5|
It was a sunny day (too sunny!), I was starting to sweat like a pig and with Phong Vinh conveniently located on that very street, we popped inside for a bit of people watching and a lot of air con. The thought of a durian smoothie ignited my tastebuds more than that of the watery slushees up for sale on the street.
The distinctive durian aroma (so tempted to describe it as stinky) and flavour resonates throughout the glass, making the tall, slender icy cold blended durian fruit shake the perfect accessory for a stinking hot day.
|Bun Thit Nuong - $11|
The compilation of this dish revolves around crisp textures of the raw vegetables and salted roast peanuts sprinkled atop. Paired with rice vermicelli and morsels of grilled pork, there's nothing really unhealthy about this meal. It's even bordering healthy. And believe it or not, miracles do happen and healthy food can be quite delicious.
|Bun Thit Nuong - $11|
Probably as close to eating a salad I'll ever get.
Some people do believe you can suss out a restaurant based on its clientele, but with this place you can't really tell. It has a mix of different people eating different types of meals for dinner from its many choices from the menu. Foods whipped up are well flavoured, and while nothing is really bland, self serve condiments are within reach and the all important hoisin sauce can save the day any day.
Unlike many places where staff are hit and miss, here it is consistently helpful and accommodating. It's akin to a no frills no spills system - well, no frills but yes spills, with a minor accident involving scalding hot soup spilled onto us - but with spills mopped up and subsequently showering us with apologies, all was forgiven.
A brightly lit, spacious, airy dining room creates a casual atmosphere where you can slurp your noodles loudly and to your heart's content without being stared at. With the standardised and recognisable thermos of hot tea given to you upon sitting down, the familiarity of Phong Vinh to Tra Vinh up the road - from similarities in its menu to the tea flasks used - CAN be justified: related owners, apparently. So the food is on par, on the better side of good.
You know you're in the vicinity of Northbridge when your dinner is interrupted by the hardworking guy, adorned with lights and other flashy devices strapped to his body, persistently selling overpriced flowers day in day out. Too bad flowers are only reserved for special occasions and dates these days, meaning I got downright rejected when I casually asked A for some flowers on a particularly normal night.
But even with its tainted reputation, you can always rely on Northbridge restaurants to stay open and dish out nourishing, good value meals. So unlike someone who won't buy you flowers, you can count on the restaurants. At least they will never let you down, or reject you.
Sun - Wed: 10am - 9pm
Friday - Sat: 10am - 10pm
(08) 9228 8238