The other week whilst out and about in Kingston I decided to drop by Saigon Foodies to try out their pho. I have had my eye on Saigon Foodies for a while but never got around to trying it until now. To be honest, I think the stores been there for ages but in the past six months or so, it was re-branded into something a lot more hip, cool and in. The food, décor and what not still looks the same. It seems like they’ve just changed their name and boarded the Vietnamese hipster trend. This isn’t a bad thing at all, and if it improves business then good on them! As much as it annoys me that stores are now selling pork rolls (or banh mi tit) for $8 when we’ve been paying $3-5 for them since I was growing up, at least I know its my fellow country men and woman who are profiteering from this hipster movement. Don’t get me started on foods that are inappropriately priced, I could go on for days!
During our trip to Saigon Foodies, we were originally hoping to get a Saigon roll (or pork roll, banh mi tit or whatever you want to call it). However, we were informed that they had sold out for the day. This was a bit shocking for me as I’ve always thought that the pork rolls at Saigon Foodies (and in Canberra in general ) were quite overpriced. Every time I see a pork roll for over $5, I cringe a little. I mean, on the weekend I grabbed a pork roll for $2.80 in Cabramatta and it was fantastic! I know, it sucks to hear that person go on and on about how some cities are better than Canberra, and I honestly try to refrain as much as possible, but I feel like pork rolls are something that we need to make a stand on! I understand that everything has to be imported from Sydney, so I’ll normally justify a price of about $5 or so in Canberra but it really shouldn’t be more than that! Anyways, it was 3PM on a weekday and they were all out. I guess the point of that story was, if you’re keen on getting a pork roll at Saigon Foodies, get in early. Also something about a revolution. A bread revolution.
Anyway, we were pretty hungry and plan A just failed, since we had a little bit of time, we settled for a pho instead.
Here is the Pho tai ($12) or rare beef noodle soup at Saigon Foodies. While I think the banh mi tit is pretty overpriced at Saigon Foodies, the pho isn’t too expensive. It has pretty standard Canberra pho prices. Okay, I know you may be thinking, ‘Why on earth are they going on so much about the price? What does it matter? You pay for what you get, the more you pay, the better the dish!’ While true for a lot of things, this rule seems to bend quite a bit for Asian restaurants. If you know where to look, there are some amazing Asian cheap eats all around Canberra that offer delicious and authentic Asian dishes, fantastic sizes for a fraction of the cost of some other places. Though, I won’t name names even though logically, you’d assume that is the entire point of a food blog. Oh well.
Anyways, more about this pho! The pho here at Saigon Foodies was pretty tasty. Strange but tasty. It isn’t the best pho I’ve had in Canberra but it’s a decent feed if you’re craving a pho, live in the inner south and don’t want to travel anywhere. I did notice that it had more of a chicken base instead of a beef base and wasn’t as meaty, deep or dark as pho usually is. Despite that fact, it had all the right pho scents and aromas. That was a bit strange. Normally, I’m able to judge a pho from its aromas. Chances are, if you walk into a Vietnamese restaurant it’s pretty unmistakable if that place serves good pho as you can smell the various spices that go into pho like star anise, ginger, cardamom, coriander, fennel, and cloves. Here the smells and aromas were all there in the pho, but the flavour was a little different to any pho I’ve had before. It was really quite subtle, light and had a more chicken broth like flavour to it.
As it wasn’t so dark and meaty, the broth was on the sweeter side but by no means too sweet or anything like that. It was probably the sweetest pho I’ve had in Canberra. Thought, I should mention that I know some people prefer their pho very savoury while others prefer it sweeter, so each to their own. Here is one for the sweet pho lovers out there. The pho had a generous amount of thinly sliced rare beef on it, as well as some herbs sprinkled on top. I didn’t really like that they added the chilli for you, especially as I can’t eat chilli at all. Once I took the picture, I pretty much rushed to get the chilli and all its seeds out of my pho as quickly as possible so the spiciness would not seep throughout my pho broth. On top of the herbs in the bowl, they also offered a side of fresh Vietnamese herbs and limes as well. I really appreciated that they did this, I know some other smaller places will just add the herbs into the pho for you, so they don’t have to waste all the herbs that you don’t eat. I don’t really like this as I tend not to put any of the herbs into my soup, so this saves me from having to pick it all out.
Here is the side of herbs, its a pretty decent amount and all the herbs were really nice and fresh. In the end of the day, it wasn’t a bad pho. Its probably not on the top of my Canberra pho list but if I was in Kingston or anywhere else in the inner south and craving one, I would probably drop by again. In hindsight, now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if they gave me the wrong pho or got my order wrong. Maybe I got a chicken pho instead. From my understanding, you can make a pretty similar pho from chicken bones but it will taste slightly different, which is exactly what we experienced! Interesting, well I do plan to visit in the near future to get my hands on one of Saigon Foodies’ pork roll, I guess I’ll have to try their pho again to see if my theory is correct. Who knows, maybe this was just a fantastic pho ga!
42 Giles Street, Kingston