It was a warm day and both Monsieur Poisson and I had a craving for pho. Unfortunately for us, we have yet to discover where to find authentic-tasting pho in our area, so we trek to Flemington where it seems almost every place bar the supermarket and bakery near the train station sells pho.
Naturally, Monsieur Poisson and I end up at our tried and familiar Pho Toan Thang. There is a queue of people stretching out the doorway (which clears by the time I take the above photo) but the wait is not long for us two who don’t mind sharing the long communal table in the middle.
Monsieur Poisson orders an iced coffee which is made with condensed milk. It is cooling and sweet with an intense coffee flavour hit. I stick with the more soothing flavours of the pot of tea provided at the table.
Monsieur Poisson orders his favourite ‘Combination Pho’ (pho dac biet) which has flat rice noodles, cooked beef slices, tripe and beef balls in a beef soup. It is herby and rich in flavour, although not as rich as some other places as I hear our shared table diners proclaim. I, for some reason, am feeling rather greedy and suggest that we order deep-fried spring rolls (cha gio) to share as well as a ‘Combination pork with tomato rice’ (com tam suon bi cha).
The spring rolls are crispy and well-drained but are not accompanied by as many lettuce leaves as usual to wrap up the crunchy rolls with their mung bean vermicelli and pork mince filling. I repeatedly dip (It’s okay to double-dip when only in the company of your partner, no?) into the accompanying fish sauce that has been spiked with rounds of small red chillies – the perfect dressing to cut through fat and oppressive hot weather.
By the time I’ve finished a couple of the spring rolls is when I realise that, yes, I have in fact been rather greedy with ordering as the ‘Combination pork with tomato rice’ is piled rather high on a round plate. But we are happy because the pork chop is thick and juicy; the steamed egg-loaf studded with pork, wood ear fungus and mung bean vermicelli is firm and yellow (at some places it can be grey and crumbly); and the rice is tomato-ey without being soggy. However my favourite part of this dish has to be the finely shredded pork rind with its powdery flavourings and springy texture.
It is no surprise that we cannot finish our dishes but the staff happily provide takeaway containers for us to bundle up our leftover rice and pork to take home. Service is swift, the food uplifting and, most importantly, we have satisfied our need for a pho fix.
Pho Toan Thang
Shop 9, 90-95 The Crescent, Flemington NSW
Tel: (02) 9764 3687
Opening Hours: 7 days 9am-8pm