For as long as I can remember Pho Hung Vuong has been a long time institution in Melbourne’s south east in Springvale where it managed to serve bowls and bowls of its delicious chicken and beef pho. I think it is hands down the best pho in town and a place any local would point to as the go-to restaurant if you want to eat outstanding pho.
Pho Hung Vuong in Springvale occupies a very tiny floorspace and there is usually a queue of people waiting to get in on busier days. I used to remember seeing crowds of people waiting outside, crowding around the entrance waiting for their turn to get into the restaurant. I was surprised that the hosts were able to remember the order and number of people in the queue.
For a while now, Pho Hung Vuong has branched out and found a much larger floorspace in Clayton. The Clayton restaurant is at least three times bigger in terms of floorspace. It offers the same menu plus three additional items, Bun Bo Hue for AUD$16, Rice and Pork Chop $15 and Fried Donuts $5. The price of pho, no matter what you order, is Small is $14, Medium is $15 and Large is $16. The main difference is the amount of noodle and soup you get as you move up the sizes. There are also plenty of drinks to choose from for $5 such as their coffees and Three Colours drink, which comes with sweet kidney bean, mung bean and pandan jelly
For me, I normally go for the Beef Special. The soup is delicious and it is something the restaurant has perfected over decades. I recall back in the 1990s and 2000s when their soup was a hit and miss since there were different chefs in the kitchen, but nowadays it is always tip-top delicious. The Beef Special has rare beef, beef brisket, tendon, tripe and a slice of beef sausages along with pickled onion and spring onion. It is a perfect blend of umami, sweet and salty flavors. I have no idea how clear soup manages to have so much flavor packed into it.
When you take your seat, you will be provided with cups and a tea cylinder that you can serve yourself. You can ask for iced tea if hot tea is not up your alley, but at Hung Vuong Clayton is it $1. The hosts don’t give you a menu, instead you just order by looking at one of the menus on the walls. If you aren’t sure what to order, I recommend going for their standard medium Beef Special, otherwise pick Chicken Special if you prefer chicken or The Lot if you want a bit of both chicken and beef. (The Lot comes with beef broth.)
If you want beef balls or extra meat, you can ask for that too for an extra $5. They usually provide this in another small bowl with some broth. Some people order the beef balls since the Beef Special doesn’t normally come with beef balls. (It must be part of their sales tactic.)
You can pretty much add whatever you like to your pho. They provide bean shoot, basil and lemon/s on a plate to your table. You can even ask for steamed bean shoot and pickled onion for no extra charge. On the table already are a bunch of sauces including hoisin, siracha, fish, soy and chili oil sauce with salt and pepper.
At Hung Vuong Clayton, I ordered their Beef Special and Bun Bo Hue. I noticed that orders tended to take longer to complete, but it may be due to the larger floorspace and more people in the restaurant. For their Beef Special, I realized that it was the same recipe, but noticed that the soup wasn’t as good as the one in Springvale and they did overcook the rice noodles a little. As for the Bun Bo Hue, I thought the soup was good and the toppings satisfying, but it was just great without anything outstanding. (Don’t get me wrong, both noodle soups were delicious and fantastic in their own right, but when compared to the original restaurant. There was a noticeable difference in quality. After all, good food is because of good chefs and not the quality of the recipe.) We also ordered extra beef balls, which were $5.(All in all, it seems like they keep upping the price every single year.)
Pho Hung Vuong Clayton is located at 346A Clayton Road, Clayton VIC 3168:
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