Friday, 23 August 2013

I Love Pho, Crows Nest

Many people judge the quality of a Vietnamese restaurant by its decor, the more dated it is the better the food is but sometimes something a little more modern opens and we should give it a go! I Love Pho was one of those places that you always pass but never think much of it when you walk by or not curious to go inside. It's a pity those places exist because often those are the ones that are worth exploring.

Crispy beef spring rolls, $9.60 
There's something different and brilliant about Vietnamese spring rolls, and it's all in the wrappers. The Vietnamese use rice paper sheets (for fresh and fried spring rolls) instead of an egg based wrapper (hence the Americans calling them 'egg rolls'). It gives a different sort of crispy crunch that I love. The texture reminds me of a thinner version of prawn crackers, where it dissolves slightly when it hits the tongue. The spring roll is filled with vegetables and beef and are still warm when they arrive. The famous Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, is sweet and only has a touch of fish sauce, which I am still trying to perfect at home. 

Green papaya salad, $16.90
The pile of green papaya salad was generous and addictive! The green papaya and carrot have been shredded finely with great crunch and drowned in more nuoc cham. There's also quite a bit of prawns and pieces of pork in the salad. I love piling the salad on the prawn crackers because it's like eating a Vietnamese taco! It's definitely a refreshing and tasty salad that I can eat for any meal of the day. 

Vietnamese crispy pancake, $12.60
The pancake is a hybrid of a pancake and an omelette, encased with lots of veg, prawns and slices of pork. The batter is slightly crispy but is unfortunately drenched in oil! It wasn't that pleasant to eat because every mouthful was flooded with oil. The filling was good, but I think after a while, based on the food we ordered, it all started to taste a bit the same especially since nuoc cham accompanied every dish. The waiter was very lovely and asked if we wanted to the pancake to be divided which we gladly accepted because we would've made a mess!

Rare beef noodle soup, $12.50
The highly anticipated pho came out piping hot along with a plate of bean sprouts, herbs, lemon, sauce and spoons. I tried the broth immediately before anyone threw in hot sauce or chillies, it was sweet and quite mild in flavour. So then I squeezed in the lemon juice and immersed the bean sprouts into the soup. I prefer having that little tang in the pho broth so the add-ons lifted it and made it more flavoursome. 

Caramelised fish hot pot, $25.50
My dad requested to have the caramelised fish hot pot and it was definitely different to what I've had before. The fish had been braised with pork belly meat which were hiding underneath the fish. It's quite a salty dish so it definitely needs to be eaten with some rice ($2/person for unlimited plain white rice). The fish is a bit overcooked but that's expected since it had been braised. It wasn't my favourite dish of the night but I'm glad I tried it because it had flavours I'd never eaten before. Can't knock it till you try it

Upon our arrival to I Love Pho my parents and I were greeted with immensely cheerful and attentive waiters. We immediately felt welcomed and looked after. The attitude of the waitstaff has an enormous influence on your experience at a restaurant, even if the food is exceptional, unfriendly staff will discourage me from returning. Definitely go for the green papaya salad and have a bit of a wander around the menu to get something beyond the usual!

I Love Pho
47 Willoughby Rd
Crows Nest

8065 1129

I Love Pho Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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