Phở cây đa (Pho Cafe) – Bankstown NSW Restaurant Review

It’s not immediately obvious to casual readers of this blog, but I’ve actually been kind of burnt out of writing this and this is my first entry in six months. There’s a huge backlog, and every day that passes with the photos on my phone the memory of each meal becomes fainter and fainter.

That said, I have been able to work up the spoons to describe this solid pho I had in Bankstown today after a five star plastics clinic appointment (and overall patient experience from the moment my cat bit me to now – I made sure that adequate and effusive shout outs were made to all the registrars and residents involved in the case on the official patient feedback form) at Auburn Hospital.

This Pho Dac Biet ($20) was on the more expensive side of things, but had a great depth and richness of flavour to the broth, and was brimming with all the requisite meat and meat products including tripe, tendon, rare beef, brisket, beef ball, and bone. This was a far cry from those fake special phos where they mix up rare beef, brisket, and beef balls and call it a day, this was a real special pho, and really good. The serving size was ample, and importantly had ample hotness to warm up all of the herbs and bean sprouts that I stashed within it.

This was a quality bowl at a high price, one of the only offerings on their limited English menu laminated and stuck to the wall next to my table. There were multiple other non-pho menus in non-English languages throughout the restaurant, but for me, this was enough.

To their credit, card was accepted with no surcharge.

Phở cây đa (Pho Cafe)
92 Bankstown City Plaza, Bankstown NSW 2200
(02) 8102 5968


Pho Ha Noi Quan – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

I’m glad, after suffering at the hands of numerous recent misses as well as the recent though delayed news of the loss of Parramatta favourite Lee Chef that we found a place like Pho Ha Noi Quan to fill the pho shaped hole in our lives.

The combination beef pho ($18) was an excellent triumph in comparison to other recent contenders, especially our recent expensive bowl from Got Pho in Carlingford. Two good things stood out about this Phở Dặc Biệt. First was the fact that this bowl of special beef pho was actually special, featuring a full complement of rare beef, brisket, balls, tripe, and tendon, rather than just the mix of beef, brisket and balls that seem to be more universally palatable. The presence of bits that weren’t strictly meat was something that I missed from Lee Chef as well as multiple other phos we’ve had recently, and the melt-in-your-mouth gelatinous texture of the beef tendon as well as the crunchy omasum were definitely most pleasurable and welcome. The other excellent quality of this particular bowl in comparison with others was its sheer thermal mass. This was a large serving (single size only) with a large volume of high temperature liquid, which meant that the soup was able to heat up all of the large volume of bean sprouts and Thai basil whilst retaining good warmth and open flavours of the broth. My only complaints about this bowl of pho are that I did not love the balls (though my partner gladly ate the vast majority of them), and I thought the soup was on the saltier side of the spectrum. Otherwise a job well done.

The pork chop noodle soup ($18) was a rice noodle soup in a rich chicken-based broth, a little oilier and probably a little saltier than the beef pho, and served with some bok choy mixed into the soup. The pork chop was served sliced on the side, fried with a bit of fish sauce flavour. My partner purposely sabotagued this review by giving me only lean bits of pork, which was not great for the taste and texture but ultimately better for me in my day two post laparoscopic cholecystectomy state. I didn’t love it, but apparently there were some fatty and juicy bits of pork that she had kept from me (for my own good).

I did not know about these green garlics, which challenged and scared me.

OVERALL I thought this was a very decent bowl of pho that I would like to have again.

Pho Ha Noi Quan Marrickville
346B Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 8018 4928


Pho PhD – Marrickville NSW Restaurant Review

Beloved Marrickville Vietnamese restaurant Pho PhD didn’t blow my mind, and that’s OK.

The Pho Beef Special ($19) was absolutely reasonable, but not the best I’ve ever had. The serving size was actually quite large, even for the regular serving, but I didn’t feel as wowed as I have been at some restaurants by the complexity of their beef balls. I am spoiled by 2 Foodies, which to date is still my favourite pho, even though I understand it’s not the most traditional rendition out there. Now there’s a place I would award a PhD to in terms of original research and a genuine contribution to mankind’s understanding of the world around us.

This Crispy Chicken with Tomato Rice ($18.50) was pretty good, no complaints from me. It has an adequately crispy skin with a moist interior, I don’t necessarily think that Sydney has an absolute crispy skin chicken king.

This Lemongrass Pork Chop ($8) was the best thing I had of the night, very well priced, and well flavoured. You save a considerable amount of money if you just order the pork chop without the rice, and we already had plenty of rice from the crispy skin chicken and tomato rice dish to go around. Yum.

Pho PhD is a very busy eatery, seemingly popular with the inner-West late 20s crowd, as we happened to run into (and successfully avoid eye contac with0 someone we went to high school with. Their food was not mind blowing, but of a reasonable staple quality. Personally given the wide range of Vietnamese restaurants in Marrickville that I’ve yet to try, I think I will eat around before I think about going back.

Pho PhD Vietnamese Restaurant
260 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9090 2869


Pho Mom – Canterbury NSW Restaurant Review

One intrepid Google Maps reviewer proclaimed Pho Mom the best pho restaurant in all of Canterbury, if only by virtue of it being the only pho restaurant in Canterbury. While I don’t personally know this Johnny Wong gentleman after paying Pho Mom a visit this past week I can certainly echo his sentiments.

The beef special pho ($18.50) came with the standard assortment of rare beef beef balls, and beef tripe, but to be honest apart from this I did not find it to be very special. The ingredients are all fresh and of good quality, but I found the soup to be somewhat one-dimensional, watery and generally lacking in depth of flavour. Perhaps it is merely personal preference, and you can browse the rest of blog to find what kinds of pho I do enjoy, but this bowl just didn’t do it for me.

Though I was let down by the pho, the fried wonton ($13) were a surprise hit. These were incredibly meaty and juicy inside, with good flavour as well as a good sweet and sour sauce for dipping on the side. This was pretty much just a random order, without big expectations, but they truly did impress.

The rice paper rolls ($13) were of good quality with soft rice paper and fresh ingredients inside, but what was really stand-out about these was the great peanut sauce. I’m also happy that we weren’t locked into choosing 4 of the same roll as the menu might suggest, and they were able to give us 2 of 2 different fillings. We had the prawn as well as the pork.

I don’t think Pho Mom really lived up to the name of being the mother of all pho. I found their pho to be their weakest offering, but thought that they exhibited unexpected strength in other areas. Given that they’re just down the road from me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and try some of the other options on their menu, but given also our proximity to other high quality Vietnamese restaurants I don’t think I will go back just for pho.

Pho Mom
259 Canterbury Rd, Canterbury NSW 2193
(02) 9789 7284


My Hao – Winston Hills NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t generally have much occasion to visit Winston Hills, but having had Lee Chef’s (amazing) pho no less than six times in the four months that we were locked down it was time to try something new.

The Beef Pho (Large – $15.50) was looking weak both visually and on paper, but turned out surprisingly good. Featuring only beef brisket, rare beef, and beef balls, My Hao’s only beef pho offering leaves out the tendon and tripe that round out a full featured Phở Đặc Biệt. The soup is clear and sweeter than I’m generally what I’m used to, and the “rare beef” is actually cooked almost all the way through by the time the bowl reaches the table. Despite theses subjective and objective shortcomings, I enjoyed this bowl a surprising amount. I think the strength of this bowl of pho really comes down to My Hao’s great use of brisket, which is fatty and moist, but doesn’t go a nanometre past the sweet spot into being too fatty. Not all bowls of pho need to be homogenous, and all things considered the only thing I would change about this pho would be to be a bit more generous with the basil.

This was not the best Pork Roll ($6.50) I’ve ever reviewed on this blog, but it probably looks the best. I can’t believe it’s taken me over 300 reviews (these get queued for ages and the posting order gets switched up, so while this meal was eaten in October 2021 the review could be posted any time into the future – or past? spooky) to realise that people would probably prefer to see a nicely cut cross-section of a sandwich than my haphazard interpretation of such made with my teeth and mouth. I recently found an anaesthetic colleague’s croissant-based Instagram, and the beauty of cut croissants and the lack of wedge-shaped teeth marks in her photos struck me. My Hao expertly served this less-than-expert banh mi cut into halves and on a plate, but I don’t really know how I can emulate this in my usual practice, unless I carry a knife with me at all times. It turns out that’s exactly what she does. I can’t wait to explain this to the cops.

Back to the actual pork roll, I felt that it lost points for being too salty and too sweet and too wet. The bread also happened to be a bit too crusty and a bit too hard, and the restaurant being a full featured restaurant rather than a bakery I wonder if their baguettes are made on site or elsewhere. I was shocked and offended when the only other diners in the restaurant ordered banh mis without pate, but looking at the amount of pate I got in mine I’m not sure it would’ve made much of a difference.

I think that if I’m after the kind of pho that I know I like whilst living in the Parramatta area, Lee Chef still has my patronage I think that if I want to subject myself to some sweeter pho that is outside of my comfort zone I’d continue to explore the rest of Sydney rather than come back to My Hao. I don’t hate them. It just is what it is.

My Hao
1E Caroline Chisholm Dr, Winston Hills NSW 2153
(02) 9688 7631