Pho Han Vietnamese Restaurant.
93 Grand Junction Road
Rosewater. SA 5013
Pho Han just happens to be around the corner from where I work, which makes me, one very lucky, one very happy girl. It’s my sometimes Friday lunch treat and I’d like to share my bliss fest with you!
There’s so much on the menu here, and it all sounds delicious, but I usually succumb to one of two very special dishes. I look at the diners around me, a mix of locals, workers, ethnicities, they look like they choose the same things on the menu I do! It’s no surprise, beef pho and broken rice combination, what’s not to love?
Pronounced, “fur”, this is a soup elevated to heights of magnificence.
Pho is a (usually) big bowl of beefy, gently spiced clear broth, filled with wide rice noodles, thin slices of beef, maybe a tiny bit of onion AND the option to add any or all of the following taste and texture enhancers:
Wafer thin slices of raw beef that cook, just right when the bowl is filled with the boiling broth.
Bouncy little beef balls
Slivers of tender tripe
Nubblets of crunchy tendon
Extra oxtail and/or brisket
And that’s just the start of this wonderful experience. Served alongside your soup is a plate of sparkly fresh beansprouts and herbs, usually Thai basil and coriander, a wedge of lemon and a little dish of chopped red chilli.
Put in what you like, let the chilli flavour the broth and the beansprouts soften because you now need a little minute to select your dipping sauces!
Pho Han offers the usual hoisin and chilli sauce, vinegar, soy and fish sauces, but, on my mind, the standout here is the little lidded ramekin, full of toasty, mellow chilli in oil. It simply is a fantastic addition to the saucy selection and you don’t see it in that many places.
I remember Chinatown Cafe in the Central markets having something very similar for their chicken rice.
The rich toastiness of this roasted in oil chilli condiment does go so well with subtle dishes like chicken rice and pho.
My latest pho was an especially nice one. Pho Han always produces a fine, slurp worthy broth but this one was particularly refined.
The first, very pleasant palate surprise was the scent/taste of cassia bark, cinnamons “coarser” cousin. Not as delicate as cinnamon, Cassia nonetheless delivers a subtle, distinctive more. Cassia always goes into pho broth but is usually harder to distinguish behind the more assertive star anise, the other pho broth must have.
The liquorice-like aroma and taste of star anise is most often the first thing to hit the nose and palate when you have beef pho. To taste the cassia first gave me a little gastronomic thrill, aha! Something new!
After this very pleasant cassia discovery, I sat, I slurped, I dipped and ate and contemplated life, just for a special little interlude in an otherwise ordinary work day.
Broken rice is exactly that, Jasmine rice that is broken…once a byproduct of the milling process, broken rice offered a cheap alternative to the premium grains.
Of course, as often happens, the alternative became a loved and favoured dish in its own right.
Broken rice has a bit of a couscous texture going on, it’s wonderful to experience and is now a definitive element of Vietnamese cuisine.
Broken rice set plates, are offered in lots of different combos, although some elements remain the same. Pho Han always serves a light chicken broth on the side, as well as a bowl of nuoc nam dipping sauce.
Will you have a look at my glorious combination plate?
A super dooper mound of tender broken rice, sweet sour pickles, as fresh as can be, pork skin salad, what savoury custard, phew! So much loveliness and I haven’t even told you about the pork…
The Vietnamese cuisine does wonderful things with pork. If you ever want the thinnest, leanest oil loin chips or the most luscious pork belly, make your first stop the butchers section of your local Asian grocers.
I digress, back on track to my combination rice porky treats.
There was a beautifully marinated and crisp grilled loin chop. Lip smacking. There was also a little pile of roasted belly. Crunchy crackling, just the right ratio of fat to meat. Bliss. There was also a taster of lean, flavoursome red roast pork.
All this was crowned with a perfectly cooked, soft yolk egg. Just the ticket! The runny yolk is the perfect addition, especially with the hot, sweet, fishy nuoc nam sauce to make delicious forkfulls of rice, pickles and rich meats.
Service here is fast and always friendly. I’ve had an elderly uncle greet me, then the mama (?) brings the menu, the young ones run food, it’s great, a really nice energy, super efficient too.
I usually pay around $10~$12 for a main course. Vietnamese coffee is $4, tea, just .50c a pot.
You can get fresh fruit shakes, jackfruit, mango, soursop, for example. Colourful, delicious bean and coconut drink, lemon soda and soda egg (a “must try”, it’s just like a virgin advocaat snowball)
Roll on Friday!