I have a lot of history with the fine suburb of Marrickville. I actually spent a couple of my formative years here and used to visit family members that still resided here. Those times are long gone and I haven’t been back often.
A few of my friends have been singing the praises of PHD Vietnamese Restaurant for a long time and I finally decided to go check out the restaurant myself. Yes, my low/no carb diet is hanging on for dear life but I’ve lost some weight so here’s my chance to put some back on.
Quick tangent before I launch into my review. I have terrible fortune when it comes to parking near my destination. I always end up parking a street away or in some tucked away lane laden with graffiti and bird droppings. I managed to avoid getting spray paint and poop on my car today but that’s because I parked over a kilometer away from PHD. It’s like the Dietary Gods decided that I had to do some extra cardiovascular activity before I could enjoy my meal.
What a meal it was.
Located a brisk walk from my car; PHD is not somewhere in which you can earn an official doctorate in Vietnamese cuisine. It is the home of pho that is a serious contender for best pho in Sydney. I walked in and was immediately saw someone with a laptop out and a DSLR camera in place ready to snap photos of her meal.
That and the sign let me know I was in the right place.
An elderly man with a head of impeccably styled white hair handed me a menu. For those that don’t know, I very rarely pick anything other than Pho Dac Biet (Special beef noodle soup with everything). The first time I had it, I knew it was the one and I chose to put a metaphorical ring on the delicacy. A few years back, I made a list of attributes that my ideal woman would have. One of those attributes was that she would have the ability to make pho.
No luck on that front.
There was a nice buzz in the restaurant and strangely no one seemed to have their food in front of them.
I ordered a drink because I wanted something to get my appetite going. I opted for a tall glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice. It sat right on the line of being too sour and too sweet and was perfect to quench my thirst and to awaken my desire for beef noodle soup.
I noticed something amazing within the restaurant. One table received the two steaming hot bowls of pho and immediately went quiet. The smell of the broth wafted through the air and infiltrated every set of nostrils in the vicinity and silence was also upon them. The place went from a hub of conversation to a church silently praying for bowls of pho to descend from the kitchens above.
Before I knew it, the elderly man with his white mop top and stoic expression made a beeline towards me with one of the biggest bowls I had ever seen.
My first reaction was ‘oh, they must have gotten me the large bowl by mistake’.
That thought disappeared as soon as I saw an even bigger bowl land at a table not too far from mine,
I was in shock. The soup looked like it was about to flow out of the bowl and land all over my table. I did a quick swirl of my bowl with the spoon and saw so much meat in there that I was positive that I’d be receiving an angry e-mail from PETA as soon as this blog went live. In layman’s terms: the serving was incredibly generous.
After the initial shock had subsided, I took a spoonful of broth and placed it in my mouth. The secret to great pho lies within the broth. Great broth usually takes upwards of seven hours to prepare and involves boiling stock with meat bones and other herbs. Whoever made this broth had clearly been filled in. I rarely drink the soup along with my noodles but this broth was way too good to ignore. The problem was that my bowl was so deep that it came with a philosophy text book (it didn’t, but still).
It’s hard to mess up when the broth is this good but it was far from the perfect bowl of pho. The noodles for whatever reason were really broken up and not as soft as I’m accustomed to. Minor flaws but this is the stuff you need to know.
All in all, the hype was more than justified. PHD is definitely home of some sup-herb pho.
Here’s the TL; DR for people who just came for a quick summary and some photos:
– There’s a car park nearby that appears to always be full. You’ve been warned.
– Entrees and side dishes won’t be required, the mains are huge.
– This pho is pho real
– I may have been away from Marrickville for a few years but now I definitely have a reason to come back.
308 Illawarra Road, Marrickville
Open 7 Days: 11:00 – 9:30
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