Pho Vien

Howard Chen
25th Jun 2023

By now, most people are familiar with pho, the Vietnamese soup dish consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. The version we know of today developed in the early 20th century just southeast of Hanoi. Beef was not a popular meat back then, thus the dish is an intersection of colonization and immigration with French demand for beef and Chinese immigrants from Yunnan using the leftover beef bones to make a soup reminiscent of a dish they had called "Crossing-the-bridge" noodles, which is almost like a subtle chicken pho.

Cut to modern day and we now have several different types of pho, not only in protein but in presentation. It's easy to fall into the trappings of thinking traditional dishes can't evolve, but with creativity and multiculturalism you get some great new dishes, see: cronut, butter chicken burritos, katsu sandos, and so on.

Pho Vien Ashfield has taken this to heart and introduced Pho Hot Pot. I'm sure it has been done elsewhere, but I haven't seen it in Sydney. Much like Chinese hot pot, you can pick a small ($31.50) or large serve ($59.50,) except you can choose pho, bun bo hue, or their spicy nutty broth. With a large you can pick two broths. You'll get a massive serving of meat, medium rice noodles, herbs, tofu, enoki, chilies, and sriracha with hoisin sauce. If you don't have a big appetite, a small can be shared between two people.

They also serve a spicy nutty pho aka Pho Satay ($19.50,) which is made with peanut sauce and their pho broth. Peanut sauce is an Indonesian sauce that came to be thanks to Spanish and Portuguese merchants introducing peanuts from Mexico, which turned into the sauce we know of today.

Pho Satay exists in Vietnam; I do recall seeing it the last time I was in HCMC, but never tried it. Again, another great dish created by creativity and multiculturalism. It's particularly popular in Canada, probably since it gets so cold there and the dish is robust and hearty with a nice kick. It's incredibly addictive and I can see myself coming back to get this over and over again especially now that it's winter.

For posterity's sake, we also ordered the Vietnamese lemonade ($6) and Vietnamese coffee ($7) and they weren't great, I'd avoid them.

This place is a winner in my book.