I came to “Phong Vinh” for lunch one day en route to the post office in Northbridge. I used to frequently dine in “Viet Hoa”, the Vietnamese restaurant next door, but after they have decided not to put anymore coriander in their soup I was on the hunt again for a good Vietnamese restaurant. I love pho. I love soup. I love bean sprouts too. So, mathematically speaking, I love Vietnamese noodle soup. I heard and read great reviews about this food court seating styled restaurant and it seems to be always full every time I walk past it.
The waitress served me tea in a thermos, yes a thermos, not a teapot, as soon as I sat down. They have over 100 menu items including spring rolls, rice dishes, dry noodles, soup noodles, beverages. It took a while for me to decide what to eat since everything looked so delicious. Finally I went for the “chicken beef soup”. I asked the waitress if this had noodles and she said it’s “chicken hofan in beef soup”. Ah well, should have written that in the menu.
I was playing with my Iphone when the steaming hot bowl of noodle soup came. The waitress spilled some of the soup and splashed some onto my arm while transferring the bowl to my table. She apologised and quickly went to get a cloth to wipe her mess. The bowl was literally a bowlful of soup (which was why it spilled) and I already knew then and there that I would not be able to finish the whole bowl unless I wanted to fall asleep at work. As with any other Vietnames restaurant, my noodle soup came with a side of bean sprouts and mint, and also a side of chilli and lemon wedge. Yum yum yum. The soup was very tasty and it had coriander in it. If there’s anything wrong with it it would be that it’s a little too oily. The lady said it came with hofan noodles. I was disappointed with this but due to my own fault really. I was really after the pho noodles, rice noodles not hofan noodles. The hofan was too soft for me. Somewhere close to being mushy in fact. I asked the waitress beforehand if I could change my order when I saw a yummier looking item in the menu that had rice noodles in it but she said the cook/chef had already started making my hofan soup. So no worries I told her. It was my mistake. And the best thing about my noodle soup was the chicken. It was very very tasty and tender. I was thinking of bland sliced chicken breast when I ordered this but they surprised me with uber tasty chicken chunks. Needless to say I was very very full.
Then a few weeks later I came here again with Auntie C, Uncle J and my little cousin. We had springs rolls to start with – a pork one and a vegetarian one. Both were very tasty and crunchy. They serve it as soon as they come out of the fryer so watch your tongue.
This time I made sure I ordered the correct type of noodles. I had the Phong Vinh special noodle soup which was divine. Rice noodle in soup loaded with toppings, seafood and meat.
As we always have someone order a braised duck noodle soup in Viet Hoa, we also had Phong Vinh’s braised duck noodle soup to see how it compares. Both were similar in taste and the difference really just came down to the soup. Phong Vinh’s is not as salty as Viet Hoa’s.
Uncle J had the chicken noodle soup, dry style (which basically means that the soup is served on the side). This is utterly similar to the chicken beef soup that I had during my first encounter with Phong Vinh except that the chicken here was fried and served on the side as a cutlet piece. He said the dish was just lovely.
Last but not least, my little cousin had the stir fry beef with fried rice. This is definitely not the best dish they are serving. The sauce on the beef tasted like something out of the packet and the fried rice was bland. If you are looking for a dish like this I’d suggest heading to a Chinese restaurant instead.