Rice Paper Rolls (Fusion Style Chicken + Otway Pork + Asian Spiced Tofu)
Pho 24 is a franchised outlet from Vietnam and its a quick service restaurant that aims to serve pho to to its customers in under one minute, the second it was ordered. Andrew and Craig, franchisees and developers of Melbourne’s Pho 24 outlet gave us an insight on how their machines were operated and designed to efficiently deliver a bowl of pho in under one minute. Scroll down below if you want to see a sneak peek of me touring the kitchen and what’s behind the scenes. The FAQ I’m expecting would go, “How do you preserve the broth and maximise its flavour over time” or “Is it possible machineries could beat the technicality of human skills when it comes to cooking pho?” I say.. if they could do it, why not?
When Pho 24 started out early this year (2014), they were giving out free pho in the middle of May. Through social media sharing, a group of enthusiasts managed to try out this bowl of glorified pho. They managed to serve 1251 bowls of pho in a span of four hours, that is a record of 52 seconds per bowl made on site. I remembered several of my friends attended the event and ended up being disappointed with what was served. Ever since then, with the variety of food selection in the heart of Bourke and Spencer Street, Pho 24 was not something everyone wanted to fill their empty stomachs with. But because of this, the owners of this outlet undergo a tremendous recipe change in order to achieve its primary vision of serving immediate fast food but not compromising on quality. Hence, don’t be fooled with Pho 24’s current ratings on Urbanspoon, they are trying to rebuild its product and brand image.
Everything you see is sample size for photos sake, and everything was portioned to fill us up just enough. The Rice Paper Rolls were light and healthy. I always dip them with chili oil because I love that bit of heat.
Chilli Baby Octopus Salad
We grabbed a leaf and scooped chunks of octopus meats on it with a little bit of gravy. It was a unification of different textures and flavours, from chewy to crispy and that sour sensation received with a little bit of spicy heat, all is conquered.
Pork Bun Burger
Normally it would be served in a proper bun. The pork was not at all dry and its moist and tender texture was achieved through steaming. I wish I could have more of it because this was most certainly my favourite dish of the night.
Spring Rolls (Chicken + Prawn)
The hot spring rolls cocooned in lettuce wraps not only tasted nice, but felt nice in the mouth too with that hot and cold combination.
Smoked Paprika Pork Banh Mi
The Banh Mi pork was nicely seasoned and the amount of cold vegetables was just right. I am not one to take pate but the subtlety here is forgivable. The bread was a little hard and perhaps over ovened or heated. I like bread that is toasted but would still stay intact when I take bites of it. This bread crusts fall off too easily for my liking.
Scotch Fillet Beef Pho (Regular + Large)
There are several different pho flavours to choose from. Both Jan and I chose the scotch fillet of beef and it comes with the thinly sliced and cooked to the perfect medium, the exact level of doneness I would have liked. And this.. served in within a minute. I mean.. wow. Flavour was still able to live on par without adding in monosodium glutamate (msg) through Craig’s invented equipment. With a low temperature sous vide cooking style method, it allows for the retention of not just flavour, but getting the most out of the ingredient nutrients as well. No need for the traditional pots and pans, flavour was enhanced through an elevated style of cooking and equipment. The equipment is able to omit ladling out the fat layer of broth, which makes Pho 24 a lot more healthier than a lot of other Vietnamese restaurants.
For further enhanced flavours, there are basil pot plants at a corner of the restaurants where you get to pluck leaves and put it in your bowl of pho. Talk about co-creation.. isn’t that fun?!
The Taro Pudding is one of their specialty desserts. Served warm with sticky rice underneath, the taro flavour was sweetened further with cut out dates.
The design of the place is modern, minimalistic and rather cultural with colourful hanging lanterns adorning itself midway through the ceilings.
Craig was nice enough to give us a practical lecture on pho making. Here’s the equipment used to make the stock.
And here’s how they preserve the stock for immediate consumption, easily dispensable huh?
Now I get to keep my own basil and pluck them leaves if I ever need any. I would usually use chopped up dried basil, but these fresh ones would be great with my frequent go-to home-cooked meal of bolognese pasta or use it as steak marinade before grilling, perfecto! Thank you Pho 24 for the basil pot and chili jar.
If demand is there, they would make this branch operational 24/7. I think us Asians missed having that amount of variety of restaurants serving various kinds of supper foods, because there are hardly any supper places in Melbourne other than junk food restaurants or pubs and bars. Have a revisit and let me know how it fares, has Pho 24 improved, or has it not? If its your first time there, tell me if its satisfactory and fulfilling. I’d like to have a read on your comments and feedback.