There’s nothing quite like a piping hot bowl of comforting pho on a rainy day to warm the cockles of your heart. Especially when said cockles are tossed in fragrant chilli oil and golden, melt-in-your-mouth chunks of luscious lard.
Say hello to the Cockles Stir-fried with Garlic ($7.50).
Yes, I know it’s a pho place but I’ve gotta say that the cockle dish was really the hot favourite on the menu. I saw at least three other tables order it with their noodles, and one girl sitting next to us had the whole plate to herself. Obviously, we had to try.
Overall: ★★★★1/2 An authentic, affordable Vietnamese feast.
Honestly, if you’re expecting your usual medium rare blood cockles, you won’t get it. These were fried till they were shrivelled and had none of the distinctive shellfish flavour of a less cooked dish, but it’s impossible for anything fried in lard and copious amounts of chilli oil to taste bad. So definitely give it a try!
And now, on to the main dish — This Pho Bò Tái or Sliced Beef Noodle ($8.90) with extra Beefballs.
The broth was very light, clear, full of beef flavour. And I also liked that the beef slices were cooked a perfect, tender pink instead of being cooked through completely which kills both the texture and flavour. The beef balls were also very tasty.
Just to change things up, I ordered the Pho Gà or Chicken Noodle Soup ($8.90).
I actually preferred this one. Despite chicken usually having a much lighter flavour than beef, this was still incredibly tasty. Especially when you have a battalion of sauces lined up to season the soup. Just look at that wicked homemade chilli oil! But the best part about both noodle bowls was really the smooth, silky rice noodles that just slid down your throat. Perfection.
We also went with another refreshing starter of Viet Papaya Salad with Prawn and Pork ($7.50). This baby here really stole the show.
Totally did not expect it, but the combination of crunchy papaya, fresh prawns, tender pork topped with shallots and tossed in a refreshing, tangy dressing was just so addictive! Definitely give this a shot. You won’t regret it.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about Mrs Pho. The food is wholesome, honest and the variety on the menu really allows you to explore Vietnamese cuisine in its entirety instead of just Pho. It’s affordable, has trendy, kitschy decor and really appeals to almost everyone. We see families, groups of teenagers, and even tourists dragging their luggage into the tiny hole-in-a-wall. There’s almost always a line at mealtimes. To avoid it, just go slightly later at around 830 or 9pm. We’ll definitely be back to try some of the other rice and Banh Mi dishes. Till then!