Fast & Phorious at Pho24 @ Sunday, November 30, 2014

Charlie & Co. dined as guests of Two Birds Talking and Pho24.

Today's adventure was a trip just across the street from Southern Cross Station, DFO end. Head towards the blue building and you'll find 'Pho 24' a place for pho on the go, or to stay and chat over awesomely presented coconut water. The cuisine is Vietnamese with a Modern twist, but still affordable.

It's the blue building and very hard to miss, if you're outside Hungry Jacks you're not there yet, keep heading away from the station in the opposite direction to Crown.

There's outdoor seating too if it's a lovely day. I was too distracted by the decorations to turn around and get a picture of the seating area. 

On arrival we were all taken in by the beautiful fresh, fun and vibrant deco of conical straw hats and colourful lanterns, and the true mark of a blogger (or tourist) we got some shots before we ever got through the door. 

Time to mingle and be social! We met Monique (mon's adventures) again since we parted last night, Libby from Two Birds and Andrew (and later Craig) of Pho 24. I may have been very fascinated at this point with this drink in my hand, coconut water in a can in a bio-degradable fake totally awesome looking coconut! I've never seen it before, and we checked out four different coconut stalls the other night at the Taste Event.

While we were chatting canapes in the form from perfect bite-size rice paper rolls floated around, which was delightful. I love the way they're served. I love rice paper rolls, and Vietnamese food.

Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of the counter and menu above it? But I did get a good shot of these huge shiny mysterious things with chimneys. Which we'll find out more about later.

Most odd and interesting there were safety scissors hanging on some of the walls surrounded by bar seats. What are they for? Above them there's herb plants, which you can harvest yourself to add a little consumer interaction to your meal!

The centerpieces were very creative, who would have thought to use a conical straw hat as a centerpiece to frame the sauces and serviettes. The later part wasn't as practical as the top straw piece wasn't hot glued down  and came with the serviette. But the sauce bottles with pumps are a great idea, and much preferred compared to your usual cheap looking $2+ shop style squeezy bottles most Vietnamese places offer.

*insert picture of Craig & Andrew here* 

Craig along with Andrew are the franchisees of Pho 24, a household chain that started in Vietnam that expanded throughout South East Asian and now has opened their first store in Australia in Melbourne earlier this year. Worldwide good & services to fit into a new culture need to be adapted to fit their needs and wants, and the pair have done just so creating fast pho with a Modern Australian twist. Fast and fresh is the idea. 

What's in a name? For Pho 24 they use 24 ingredients (this is anything but your 4 ingredient cooking or Jamie's 20 Minute Meal) and are hoping to be open 24hrs in the future, which is great for when my office closes at midnight and I'm craving pho! For now they're open 7am - 9pm, from breakfast till dinner.  

Tonight's Menu - *Click to Enlarge*

Other than dessert, I always love the fun starters. 

We started with a 'Fresh Baby Octopus Salad' which in one word was hot! Too hot for me to handle, though as it was served in lettuce cups like san choi bao (which we made in 7th grade home ec) there was a refreshing contrast. But if you love the heat, give this one a go.

Traditional Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi followed, these are the bread rolls that are always a hit, Vietnamese Subway some call it in Footscray. Pho24 bakes their bread daily (while they don't make the bread they do bake it) and are spread with the signature pate (liver) and mayo that's exclusive to Pho24 Australian Edition. As I don't eat pork Andy covered this review saying it was good and very tasty with great bread, however the bottom of the bread was saturated in sauce and sticky. 

Another beautiful pork creation followed, the Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Steamed Buns, which had great presentation, and would be a lovely canape at a party. I love steamed buns though have never seen them served this way. Served warm Andy loved the flavours, and how fresh it was.

Saving the best was last (entree) was the 'Prawn Spring Rolls' which was designed to be served with pickled grated carrots in a lettuce wrap topped with coriander for decoration and dipped in nuoc mum (fish sauce). I have never had spring rolls served like this and loved it! It's like protein meets veggies, the contrast of deep fried and freshness.

We had an opportunity to check out the kitchen and behind the scenes, and see the the huge 150L vats of broth (chicken & beef) that simmer between 8-10hrs to develop all the wonderful flavours of pho. It's all about the broth that makes it or breaks it.

Now we approach the highlight of the evening, 'Pho Under a Minute'. The fastest pho you'll ever get! The system refection our (American) cafeteria, where you a grab a tray, a drink and slide.

As soon as you order the noodles are blanched, placed in a bowl and fly through a speedy production line and may even make it to point of collection ever before you if you stop to take pictures. 

Silken Tofu Pho

Andy had the silken tofu which he said was nice, though we all know he regrets not ordering the beef. ;) But he liked the broth, and all the colours & flavours of pho. At this point he inquired if behind the scenes the staff were Vietnamese, and they are - so you know that they know what they're doing and would be a hard critique themselves as people are when they grew up eating that dish.

Beef Scotch Fillet Pho

The size is just right for me, as normally bowls of pho are huge. But for those who want more they also come in a larger size. I had the original tender beef scotch fillet, which was like any other Vietnamese restaurant, just as good but with no msg. Pho 24 is better than Roll'd to me, the broth is much nicer. Not sure who drew the evil spoon, as I edited this at work and left the computer for a moment...

 Taro Pudding

I was very interested in seeing the dessert menu as Asians aren't know for their desserts unless you get to know them. There's lots of Vietnamese desserts out there, found in plastic take-away containers at Vietnamese bakeries/shops. But tonight we were presented with a Modern Vietnamese dessert, Taro Pudding topped with dates and yellow beans was quite nice. Craig said you either love it or hate it. I like it but don't love it, while Andy who is Vietnamese said it was too sweet and made him thirsty. But because it's Vietnamese with a Modern twist it would suit our sugar-lovers much more, and more importantly the average office worker who ventures out to lunch & dinner in the city.    

Something I don't like about some  food bloggers is that it's more of just an ad for a restaurant, no comments are made on the food, what the writer honestly thinks of it. I'm not like that.

Prices. The bowl of pho we had is regular size and is $9.50, which is around the same price as Footscray, but smaller although you can be sure it was made in a very clean & hygienic kitchen. Banh mi (bread rolls) are $7.50 to reflect the price of the city, so you could still get lunch for under $10, like out West. Coconut Water is $4.50, if you're not close by 7 Eleven does stock these ones. For the full menu click here

As if we didn't have a great evening drinking, socializing and eating, a cherry chili on top was added in the form of wine to take home, a pot of coriander and a jar of satay chili oil.

Thanks for a great evening Andrew & Craig, and Two Birds PR. :)

Credits to Gastro-logy for the blog post name. I chose to use 'ph' instead of 'f' fort pho and because the Vietnamese alphabet only has 24 letters (with variations) instead of the 26, with no f and z.

Where do you get your pho fix? 
Have you ever had spring rolls served this way?

Pho24 on Urbanspoon

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