Pho Hub, Belconnen

14 Nov

There are two things you should know before I start this post:

1) I loved Pho Viet on Beissel Street in Belconnen. I was saddened when it closed (but couldn’t be unhappy when Belconnen got its own Asian Noodle House in its place).

2) I think Belconnen has great amenity. The high rises – whatever you think of them – have space underneath, and many of the newer ones like Altitude and Sentinel, and even Oracle (Benjamin Way facing) have the potential to create a real street and cafe culture. Remedy by Lonsdale Street Roasters and Chatterbox have helped to kick that off.

Look, Belconnen will never be a Braddon – hell, we don’t want to be; we’ve got our own vibe – I think there’s the same sense that opportunities are emerging. There’s space to do things – not land to be developed necessarily, but there’s room to move and create. And hey – compared to Braddon, Belconnen has tonnes of parking. πŸ™‚

With that in mind, here’s the review:

My friend’s taken a seat inside the new restaurant located in the Sentinel tower – opened this past Saturday – when I arrive, but it’s 7pm with daylight savings and the weather’s gorgeous – warm with a touch of a breeze – and Pho Hub has some lovely clean tables set outside. It’s no problem for the staff who are on their way to the table with water, and we have our pick of the tables outside.

Tables and chairs outside Pho Hub

The menu is well presented with lots of items set out clearly. There are only non-alcoholic drinks in the menu but no sign that it’s BYO only – as we look around for a sign our waiter catches our eye and hurries out to take our order, but is just as gracious when we explain we’re just wondering if it’s BYO. She explains they’re still negotiating a liquor licence but is BYO in the meantime. With that mystery solved, we’re back to poring over the menus; we’re keen on starters but with the tempting choices it almost takes a SWOT analysis for us to agree.

And then there are the mains. It’s surely called Pho Hub for a reason, so pho it will be. But which? I opt for traditional beef, while my companion picks bon bo hue.

Our orders are taken diligently, and within three minutes our rice paper rolls with prawn and pork arrive ($6 for two). The hoisin sauce is tasty and the rolls are packed full without bursting, and are tasty and fresh.

Prawn and pork rice paper rolls

Next – and quickly – is the wonton soup ($5). While the filling is a bit bland, the soup and the wonton shells are tasty and plentiful, with five wontons.

Wonton soup

Equally quickly is the chicken satay skewers which, at $7 for two, I’ve high hopes are pretty extraordinary (or large pieces of chicken). The pieces of chicken are large, and juicy, and there’s enough delicious sauce to share amongst the big skewers. I’m still not sure that $3.50 a skewer is great value, but if this is your only starter you’re not going to be disappointed with the serving.

Chicken skewers

I’m just polishing off the last few mouthfuls of my chicken skewer when two waiters appear with our pho and ask if we’re ready. I advise it’s just a minute at most – our table is full of plates and we probably just need to rest our stomachs. It’s not a problem for the staff, and I expect them to be back momentarily.

About two minutes later, our original waiter comes back and says that they were concerned the pho wouldn’t be hot enough if they sat for a minute, so two more were being made for us! That’s service and we appreciate the sincerity, but we genuinely feel terrible – I think we were more than prepared to accept the consequences of a pho that had sat for a minute or two.

Never mind – it’s still only a few minutes more before our pho is served.

There’s some pretty lovely light in Belco of an evening (not that I’m biased)

My companion’s hue beef comes with a thick broth which brings the balance of spicy, sour, salty and sweet flavours. These are large bowls, and it’s been filled to the brim.

Bon bo hue ($13.50)

Pho tai (rare beef with rice noodle soup) ($13)

My large pho beef is LARGE and difficult to finish. The broth is moreish, particularly when combined with delicious iced black tea ($3.50) and there’s plenty of lovely rare beef in the dish that makes it very filling (not to mention all the starters we’ve gorged ourselves on!). We’re served the usual dressings as well as sauces including chilli, but for me it’s not necessary. I keep putting down my chopsticks and considering myself done, but then absent-mindedly find myself shovelling more noodles into my mouth – a sign of a good pho, I’d say.

We barely make it half through and are contenting ourselves with conversation with another friend who’s arrived, when the chef comes out to greet us and ask what we’ve thought of the meal. He says they’ve put a lot of effort into the design and indicates they’ve had a very successful start over the last few days, with plenty of people coming in to keep him running off his feet. This doesn’t surprise me: last night I walked by it (while on a stroll photographing errant trolleys because you know me) and it was absolutely packed. We say we’re pleased to see it so busy and we’re offered an opening week special of something akin to a Vietnamese pannacotta – coffee or plain – on the house. I’m full to bursting but it’s clear I can’t say no so oblige. It’s a light way to finish and I’m reliably informed the coffee one does in fact taste better.

Dessert

It’s a really lovely end to a meal in a place which has taken everything seriously, from the decor to the menu, to the food and the service. I came to scope it out as a takeaway venue, but with such lovely atmosphere and quick service, it’s worth making the trip and staying for the ambiance.

Belco does all right with the sunsets

Date: Thursday, 13 November 2014

Where: Benjamin Way, bottom of Sentinel building opposite Westfield Belconnen

Cost: About $55 for two, including three drinks (a coconut juice and two iced teas), three starters and two mains

Value for money: High

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? I can’t spot a website, but Pho Hub’s takeaway menus are available from its front window and mimic the menu (but confirm that for yourself). It’s open seven days for lunch (10am-3pm) and seven days for dinner (5-10/10.30pm), with a 10 per cent discount for takeaway picked up that’s over $10 (phone 02 6251 0367). All starters (including soups) are $6-7, and you can roll your own rice paper wraps for $18-22. The various pho is $12-15, stir fried noodles are ~$17 and rice dishes are $13.50-$16.50. The house specialties include soft shell crab ($18.90) and gourmet mushroom with garlic ($15), and there are also plenty of chicken ($15.50-15.90), beef (all $15.50), pork (all $15), squid (all $16), prawn (all $18), fish ($18-$19.90), vego ($13) and lamb (all $16.50) dishes.There are only two dishes on the menu over $20. Good value, I reckon!

(I really hope we encourage more of these – and continue to bring this street dining phenomenon to Belco!)
Pho Hub on Urbanspoon

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13 Responses to “Pho Hub, Belconnen”

  1. Gary Lum November 14, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    For a long time Pho Viet was the main reason people visited Yummy Lummy πŸ™‚

  2. Greg November 14, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    You might want to explain to people that I’m growing he horrible moustache for Movember.

  3. Erin November 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Yuuuuuuuum. Now I’m craving Pho.

  4. veronicashortandsweet November 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    So many new buildings in Belco! It’s getting hard to keep up. That Pho looks the best! Do they do a Bahn Mi?

  5. Wita November 29, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    Have you ever tried Can Tho?

    • inthetaratory November 29, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Yes – I found it disappointing. I think I may have just ordered the wrong thing tho.

  6. Tales of a Confectionist April 9, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on TALES OF A CONFECTIONIST and commented:
    Beautiful photos as always Tara! Now I have a craving for pho

  7. sdorttuiiplmnr June 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    Good day very cool web site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds alsoKI am happy to find numerous useful info right here within the post, we need develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  8. Patrick Caruana June 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    The best chicken Pho in Australia can be had at “I Love Pho” at 264 Victoria Street Richmond. Nothing comes close. Especially on a cold winters day in Melbourne. Its outstanding. The broth is outstanding. The chicken spot on. You cant beat it. A huge bowl for around $9.00. A family run business with the matriarch Grand ma surveying all the goings on from her chair. Mum, Son and staff run a restaurant that is famous in Melbourne. If you are not there by Midday during the working week the queue snakes down Victoria street.

    • jack McCrackenback April 11, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

      MSG

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