Where is your favourite Pho restaurant in Canberra? Do you have several favourites? Every region in Vietnam seems to have a slight variation in Pho style and most restaurants have numerous options to suit different tastes. If your favourite Pho joint is on the voting list below, please vote for it and let us know why in the comments. If it isn’t on the list, please let us know so we can add it!
Winter is the perfect time to devour a fragrant, fresh Vietnamese Pho (usually pronounced ‘fur’ or ‘fa’ – not ‘foe’), a traditional noodle soup usually found in beef, chicken or vegetarian combinations. Canberra is blessed with several fantastic Pho restaurants, with at least one highly recommended option in the major town centres and several smaller shopping strips and centres. Pho seems like a simple dish but to make it properly takes many hours of boiling bones and skimming stock.
The RiotACT wrote a short review of some Pho places in Canberra in 2015, with some good feedback from readers, but the number of options has increased immensely since then. The recommendations from readers given then included Can Tho in Belconnen, Pho Phu Quoc in Dickson, Tu Do in O’Connor, Simply Pho in Gungahlin, iPho in Garema Place, My’s at Cooleman Court, Miss Van’s Street Food at Westside (which sadly no longer exists) and Pho Hub in Belconnen. The reporter went back to try the two most popular suggestions and found great merit with both. But the reality is new places have opened, and some have sadly closed. Five years ago I would have recommended Noodle Cafe in Garema Place but it no longer exists. And newer places like Bistro Nguyen and Phat Panda in Tuggeranong have a growing loyal following. Phat Panda is a great little place that only opened a few months ago and is about to also start appearing at local festivals. The driving force behind this great new restaurant is Luke Leong. Like all up and coming restauranters, he loves food and watching people devour and enjoy his creative passion. Phat Panda often has specials that aren’t on the menu so it’s always worthwhile to say hello to Luke and ask if he has any specials or surprises available to try.
The beef #Pho from Tuggeranong’s @phat_urban is great. And $13.80 is pretty well priced for a healthy meal that will keep you full for a day – lucky southsiders! #Canberra #Vietnamese #food. pic.twitter.com/es6fZ5mof5
— CBR foodie (@CBRFoodie) August 30, 2018
Another newcomer to the Canberra pho scene is Ms Ba Co in Majura shopping centre. The owner Richard Phu’s family run a successful Vietnamese Restaurant in Richmond, Melbourne, which is like Cabramatta in Sydney, but more hip, easier for tourists to get to by tram, and just as tasty. Richard and his family came to Australia as refugees and are originally from Hue in central Vietnam. They’re working hard to build a new business and their food is delicious. If you’re ever near the airport it is a must-try. Their family’s authentic love for food is obvious from the care they take and the fresh ingredients they use. The Pho is amazing but the Banh Mi is to die for as well and they will also raise the bar for other Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra with their generous servings and authentic tastes.
As well as awesome BanhMi, #MsBaCo in Majura #Canberra does tasty #Pho. Today I enjoyed an authentic #PhoBoDacBiet with plenty of tripe & extra #chilli. The $16.50 large bowl is HUGE. Will be back for more!
Must-try if you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine or just love good food. pic.twitter.com/xwh7W6O0ib
— CBR foodie (@CBRFoodie) April 26, 2018
Although I’ve never been to Vietnam I did work for three years in Cabramatta in the 90s, when it was known as both the Banh Mi and Pho capital of Australia, amongst other things. I learned to say Pho Bo (beef pho) and Pho Ga (chicken pho) and sadly, because I looked a bit western to most Vietnamese, often had to insist on extra chilli as they often assumed the western palate was not adapted to high concentrations of this delicious accompaniment. I also learned to expect a jug of cold water on the table, along with a box of tissues, and various sauce bottles and cutlery. Some of the old school Vietnamese restaurants still maintain these traditions and it is very endearing to Pho fans when you see it.
Took a day of leave to do some maintenance. Enjoying a well-deserved Special Beef #Pho in one of #Canberra’s many wonderful Vietnamese #restaurants. If you haven’t tried all of them you are missing out. Highly recommend Can Tho in #Belconnen, @phatpandaurbanasian in #Tuggeranong, Ms Ba Co in #Majura, Pho Phu Quoc in #Dickson, iPho in #Civic… just for starters – but there are several more. I’m biased towards lots of hot #chilli & #tripe in my beef pho and this one was delicious! #eat #CBR #food #VisitCanberra #igerscanberra #vietnam #vietnamesefood
There are so many variables in what different people want in a Pho, so I think we need to let you, the readers, decide which is your favourite and maybe do a follow-up story after the data is in. Who knows, there might be a surprise contender. A recent stroll through the city showed me that while Bistro Nguyen was as busy as usual serving up delicious Vietnamese food to a packed restaurant, only a few metres away in front of the No5. bus stop at the Civic Bus Interchange, Hello Hanoi had a steady stream of cash-strapped students enjoying its slightly cheaper but still tasty $12.50 Rare Beef Pho.
…2/ You know a Vietnamese Restaurant knows what they are doing when they have a little cutlery station with hot sauce, a jug of water and a tissue box on every table! pic.twitter.com/MEIN1R68Oj
— CBR foodie (@CBRFoodie) August 31, 2018
So here is the voting list of all 25 Canberra Pho restaurants your intrepid but time-poor noodle connoisseur can think of easily. There are some Vietnamese cafes and restaurants (like the one in Griffith) that we know don’t do Pho, so we haven’t listed them here. Please let us know which is your favourite.
If you’re a Pho-lover like Darren in the picture below, then share this post with your friends and fellow Pho lovers so that your favourite place gets its rightful position at the top of the list once we publish the results!
I’m told by a reliable source that the Vietnamese bakery in Curtin also does Pho occasionally. And there was word on the street that a Pho van had been set up in a car park in Gunghalin by an old Vietnamese couple but it sadly shut up shop last year. If anyone has similar hot tips please include them in the comments below.
Elias Hallaj (aka CBRfoodie) is a part-time food tweeter and blogger and full-time political staffer who occasionally masquerades as a food writer on RiotACT. All his opinions about Pho and other Vietnamese delicacies are his own. He also wishes he looked as handsome as Darren does while eating pho in the photo above. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.