Tuesday, 29 March 2016

I Love Pho, Crows Nest

OH YEAH It's PHO WEATHER! Who can resist a big warm broth of pho? PHO SURE!!! "I Love Pho" has operated in Crows Nest for the past five years, serving authentic Vietnamese. No fusion here. Yes!! PHO-tastic

For the North Shore folks, you don't have to travel out to Cabramatta or Bankstown for an authentic Vietnamese experience. You can just head to I Love Pho. I Love Pho is very reasonably priced for the Crows Nest area. 

Both Lisa and QHL are Vietnamese so we both have high expectations where we think ”mama’s cooking is the best”. I particularly don't like Vietnamese modern fusion. I must prefer the traditional style so I'm glad I Love Pho is authentic Vietnamese. We get some recommendations on what to order as the menu has a lot of choice.

I Love Pho is a bit more up-market and is licensed so you can get beer Estrella ($8), Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($5) or jasmine tea ($4.5 for a pot). You'll have to pay for tea at I Love Pho.

The decore inside is dim and romantic. Or you can sit outside with your giant dog. I saw a gorgeous giant dog sitting outside on the floor with a local couple (who seem to be regulars). I opted to sit outside for better lighting but it was getting cloudy! 

Hanoi Crispy Spring Rolls (Cha Gio, $9.60) – Made with rice paper to give it an extra crunchy outer shell and some chewiness inside. My preference for filling is a majority of meat (pork mince) though I was pleasantly surprised with the balance of mince, taro and other vegetables – other spring rolls of this kind tend to have more of the filler vegetables and less taro and meat. This gets QHL's “Mum’s Thumb Up”.

This is a must order entree dish. 

Vietnamese Crispy Pancake (Banh Xeo, $13.60) – What a bright yellow and gorgeous looking dish. PHO SURE! 

The first thing I noticed was that this pancake, when unfolded, would be a perfect circle. Banh xeo is one of my favourites because of the flavour, the crunch, the mound of herbs and salad you eat it with, and that you eat it hands on, literally (wrap up portions of the pancake with lettuce leaves filled with herbs and dunk in the dipping sauce, DELICIOUS). It had plenty of bean sprouts inside and with pork and prawns (I would prefer less bean sprouts but that's just me) but the most important part was that the pancake itself was the star of the dish having a crunchy shell and the hint of turmeric. 

Another must order dish is the Salt and Pepper Tofu (Dau Hu Muoi Tieu $11.60) – The tofu served here is the soft gelatinous kind with a thin, crisp layer of batter dusted with fine salt and pepper – don’t forget to dip it in the lemon pepper sauce. 
Even the pieces at the bottom were still crispy so you know it’s good. QHL gives this the “Two Mum’s Thumbs Up”.

Given it's getting a bit cooler, everyone wants to have some PHO! PHO SURE! The Rare Wagyu Beef Noodle Soup (Pho Tai – Wagyu $16) – Everybody knows what pho is. If you don’t, then you should get the pho out of here (hehe, just joking).

You can tell the difference with the wagyu slices as they are softer than regular beef slices when fully cooked and have a richer flavour. The broth is light at I love Pho. Some of the other eateries in Cabramatta/Bankstown have much more depth in the broth. Make sure you add in the thai basil, lime and sauces for more flavours. It's delicious! Pho is always a generous portion so on a cooler day when you are hungry then this is the ideal dish.

For a dry noodle dish, I recommend the Grilled Marinated Pork and Spring Rolls with Vermicelli (Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio, $14.90) – This is always a great tasting dish so when the marinated pork and the spring rolls are delicious on their own but also compliment the vermicelli and salad well it becomes delicious. QHL continues his quirky ways and gives this “Two Mum’s Thumbs Up”. A Must order dish

A fun bit of trivia for the uninitiated, and of particular interest to coeliacs, is that the majority of Vietnamese cuisine is gluten free thanks to the widespread use of rice, rice flour, corn flour, tapioca flour, mung bean flour, and the like. Wheat flour, and other gluten containing ingredients, are not common in traditional Vietnamese cuisine though with the former French occupation Vietnam learnt how to bake some kick arse bread – as most of you already know.

For those have have travelled to Hue, you may have tried this dish below. This one is part of the dinner menu and is a must order dish.

The owners have perfected this recipe, having tried this over 30 times to just get the perfect balance of flavours. The Hue Style Lemongrass Chicken Hotpot (Ga Xa kieu Hue, $21.60) – This is one dish I haven’t come across before so I was interested in trying. Served in a clay pot (beware of the heat) the chicken is melt in your mouth tender with a caress of lemongrass and a noticeable hit of turmeric – obvious evidence of both can be seen in the pot. Even though I’m not familiar with it I can see this style of dish being cooked at home. 

Also part of their dinner menu, the“I Love Pho” Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac, below $26.50) – Lots of Vietnamese restaurants serve shaking beef, the difference here is the dish isn’t dry like a reformed alcoholic and the beef hasn’t been overcooked. The beef is diced into large chunks and is delightfully juicy inside allowing you to taste the flavour of the beef itself. 

You can expect good quality Vietnamese food whatever you order, and I recommend you do drop by and try it, because they know what they’re doing in the kitchen. It's hard to get authentic Vietnamese without travelling out west (a bit of a distance if you live in Crows Nest) so I Love Pho is a great spot for the North Shore folks.

Very reasonably priced for the area and would be enjoyable with a glass of wine or beer :). 

Location: I Love Pho – 47 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest

Website for full menu: www.ilovepho.com.au

Opening Hours: Everyday 11am to 10pm

I Love Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Weekendfoodescapes dined as a guest of I Love Pho. This blog was written by QHL (with a few edits from Lisa). All words, opinions and photos are Weekend Food Escapes. Matt's pics are gorgeous!

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