Friday, September 25, 2015

Pho Mee, Melbourne CBD by Benny

Back in the early 1990s I worked within walking distance of what is still a centre of Vietnamese culture in Melbourne – Victoria Street, Richmond. Back then, it was one of the few places where you could get Vietnam’s version of that worldwide comfort food: noodle soup, and it was called “pho”. We didn’t know how to pronounce it then, but that didn’t matter; the English menu anglicised and assigned numbers to each of the dishes. Pho cost between $4 and $6 for a wonderfully fragrant, very large bowl of noodle soup, accompanied by a large plate of fresh bean shoots and plentiful Vietnamese mint leaves to be plucked from the twig and dunked in the steaming soup.

In the many years since I worked near Victoria Street, Vietnamese food culture has spread across Melbourne. A bowl of pho has become a go-to comfort food for everyone.

Our midday meal today had to be sandwiched between a lunchtime lecture and a 2:30 meeting, and it is nearly 2pm before we find ourselves at the top end of Lonsdale Street searching for a quick lunch. Not willing to compromise, we head for Little Bourke Street, even though time pressures preclude the many decent quality restaurants and cafes that we know and love. We pass a plain sign – white lettering on a red rectangle – directing us to a food court in the Paramount Retail Centre. Time is getting very tight, so we duck in for a quick look.

The food court offers all the usual suspects (for Melbourne). The d├ęcor is uninspiring, making little effort to disguise the fact that this is a simple rectangular space with undistinguished plastic tables and chairs in the middle, and there are few customers, which is not encouraging. As you would expect, the food is mostly on display in bain maries. As a matter of principle, we prefer dishes cooked to order, or if sampling from bain maries, only where there is clearly a high turnover of food. This late in the lunch hour, turnover is pretty much zero.

And then we come to Pho Mee/Green Tea. I am instantly transported back to Victoria Street and in no time we had ordered pho with beef, and pho with beef and beef tendon. Only a few minutes later two steaming hot, very large bowls of pho are placed in front of us. A rather untidy plate of bean shoots and Vietnamese mint accompanies. Only the disposable wooden chopsticks and plastic soup spoons mar the memories.

Pho lives and dies on the quality of the broth, and Pho Mee/Green Tea passes with flying colours. The broth has a wonderful depth and complexity of flavour with a hint of star anise, the beef sliced paper thin and still rare in the middle, the beef tendon soft and gelatinous, the noodles requiring just the right amount of undignified slurping.


Verdict: we really liked it

We would go back.

 Pho Mee I Love Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Anonymous said...

Paramount has an excellent Thai place called Me Dee. I've heard the Sri Lankan is good too.

EatAndBeMerryCrew said...

Thanks for the tip, Anon!

EatAndBeMerryCrew said...

Hi Anon, thanks for the heads up on the Thai, but I tried their version of the iconic Pad Thai today and was disappointed. Maybe the chef was having a bad day. Benny

Anonymous said...

Try the pork noodle soup or the boat nboodles mate. here's a review of their other location

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