Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pho Hien

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I reckon Sunshine rocks.  Heaps of parking, lots of interesting restaurants and bargains galore in the various fresh food centres around.  Sunday was quiet, at least until we worked out where everyone was - at Pho Hien.

pho hien

Miss J had not only tipped me off about Pho Hien's Sunday special, banh xeo or Vietnamese pancake, but set a date for us to go there.  Perfect!  It took some wrangling to organise a table to fit us all but we were persistent.  Behind us, the entranceway filled up with hungry would-be customers gazing balefully at others' bowls.

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Banh xeo, $12

We had come for one thing - banh xeo or Vietnamese pancake, a huge crepe made with eggs, coconut milk and rice flour.  It comes with a very impressive jungle of greens, from classic iceberg to bitey mustard leaves, European mint to "fish mint" which actually smells exactly like stinky fish.

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Inside is so much textural and flavour variation, from soft cooked pork and white radish to slightly crunchy, shell-on baby prawns; the contrast of long, crisp mung bean sprouts and sweet, mashy cooked mung beans themselves.  Take a lettuce leave, section a piece of pancake, roll it up and dip in seasoned fish sauce.  Delicious!  Now Luke Nguyen has been telling me for years not personally although I wish :p---- that you can eat the prawns with their shell on.  Honestly, they are pretty good like this!  The shell is not over-the-top hard or crunchy but gives textural variation to the soft meat inside.

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Grilled chicken, $9.50

People ask, "How do you get your kids to eat in those restaurants?"  Behold my secret, ye olde grilled chicken on rice complete with token vegetables.  This chicken was yummo, very juicy, great drizzled with more seasoned fish sauce.

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Sliced beef pho, $6.50 (baby size)

Persistence will pay off, though, and now my eldest loves "beef soup".  The broth here is really sweet and mellow with perfect al dente noodles of irregular width.  The beef is top quality, nice round slices.  Each table has sweet pickled onions on it in a little jar - be sure to add some!

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Spring rolls, $7.50

I read on a blog somewhere once that pho is just meant to go with spring rolls while bun bo hue with rice paper rolls.  That is all the excuse I need, really.  These were very good, almost rectangular in shape and ticking all the boxes for crispy, generously-filled and above all, tasty.

As we ate I saw people going out with huge silver roasting trays containing a banh xeo, along with a bag full of greens.  I love that it's their Sunday special only - it makes me think they've put a lot of care into it.

Kenny highly recommends the bun noodle salads at Pho Hien too.

Pho Hien Saigon on Urbanspoon

Pho Hien
3/284 Hampshire Rd, Sunshine (map)
Phone:  9311 9532
Hours:  Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 10am-8pm


  1. That place definitely looks worth checking out, but I think I have to mine the treasures of St Albans before I can move on to Sunshine!

    And just quietly, I'm fairly sure I've never seen a banh xeo recipe with eggs in it. It's the turmeric that makes it yellow. ;)

  2. Yummo. Jeez, that all looks so delicious and fresh but still relatively healthy. I love your blog. Have to get myself over to that part of the city and check out some of the amazing places you've introduced me to!

  3. Gosh, that pho is so cheap! It all looks delish!

  4. ahhhh… love love love Asian food posts!!! :D

  5. Damn, that looks good. Does the Pho at Pho Hien compared to Hung Vuong in Footscray? :o

  6. great post! i'm devoted to my pho at Mekong on Swanston... but that doesn't mean i can't or shouldn't branch out. the banh xeo looks SO GOOD.

  7. Yum the banh xeo pancakes looks great.. packed with lots.

    The place looks busy!

  8. I went here yesterday and was so in love with the pancake! I enjoyed the prawns which had the shell left on them :)

    I also ordered the spic beef soup but that was a let down, SO MUCH meat, like over board! The noodles resembled italian pasta but the rice paper rolls we chubby and came with such a lovely hoisin/ppeanut sauce.

  9. A blog dedicated to food in Footscray?! This must be good and I'm looking forward to checking out your posts :)

  10. My favourite pho place, always better than footscray in my opinion


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