Whenever I’m in Melbourne, Springvale is my hood. My father lives only a short five minute drive away from Springvale, and we do all our shopping there. With a high number of Vietnamese people in the area, it’s become known as a “Little Vietnam” of Melbourne, alongside its Western suburbs cousin Footscray.
Like its Sydney equivalent Cabramatta, there are mixed opinions of the area based on the local population (“Isn’t that where all the stabbings happen?”) but one thing is clear – it’s a real mecca for cheap, authentic, Vietnamese food that hits the spot. Out of all the restaurants in the area, Pho Hung Vuong 2 is the clear crowd favourite and my family’s preferred dining establishment for all three meals of the day!
Located on busy Balmoral Avenue, the restaurant is flanked by an Asian grocery store with its wares spilling out onto the sidewalk, and a real estate agent. I arrive early in the morning with my aunt for an early breakfast and the restaurant is already starting to fill up with other people seeking a hot bowl of noodles to start their day right.
The decor is nonexistent, the menu is in the form of signs on the wall, and the service is no-nonsense. The choices available are minimal – pho, pho, pho, with different toppings and available in different sizes. They choose to do one thing well, rather than diversify and lose their natural advantage of focused excellence. This works for them – diners come back again and again and you will often see a line of people down the block on weekends waiting for a table.
I order a medium bowl of pho bo - or raw sliced beef pho. It comes out within minutes, the thin beef slices proudly pink until I dunk them into the clear broth. I add sliced chillies, thai basil, and bean shoots to my noodles with a squeeze of lemon to bring out the flavours in the broth.
Pho broth is one of those recipes that I’ve vowed to conquer one day – the best broths are made over the course of half a day, with half a dozen different types of bones and meat and two dozen different spices and herbs. Pho Hung Vuong 2 have definitely perfected their recipe for pho broth – their soup is clear, flavourful, and slightly sweet. It’s the kind of flavour you just can’t replicate at home!
As soon as my aunt and I complete our meals, we’re gently encouraged to leave as waitresses efficiently clear up around us. We’re in and out in less than half an hour. At less than $10 a bowl, Pho Hung Vuong 2 delivers a quick, tasty and frugal meal that really hits the spot in a cold Melbourne winter.
Overall, I rate Pho Hung Vuong 2 an 8.5 out of 10.