The newest Vietnamese joint to open in South Melbourne, Pho Cycle is generating quite a buzz. It’s conveniently located near my office and it wasn’t long before a gaggle of co-workers decided to give it a go. We were very impressed by the fit out, it was a bit West, a bit East, just like the fusion of Vietnamese favourites and some interesting Western additions you’ll find on their menu. Crunchy Asian salad with lemongrass chicken and sweet potato fries? We’re there! We found our waiter to be charmingly hungover, affable, friendly and rather excellent despite what must have been a bit of a headache. Being so newly open they were still ironing out some of the service processes and were a bit slow, potentially surprised by the throng of customers. After only being open a few days the chatty and friendly service says a whole lot more about what we can expect from Pho Cycle than the speed does.
I was captivated by a Beef Pho which aromatically drifted past our table. We also couldn’t help but want to try the Chicken Ribs, Asian Cold Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries. As other tables around us placed their orders we couldn’t help but overhear the ‘happy’ noises you hope for in a restaurant. There was ‘Ahhhhh-ing’, ‘Ooooh-ing’ and ‘OH-mnmmmmm-ing’ coming from all sides as others diners ate. It’s safe to say the expectation was palpable by this point.Pho is a deceptively simple dish. A Vietnamese noodle broth, traditionally served with thin slices of beef, beef balls and tripe (Pho Bo), it really packs a flavour-punch! While it’s a light soup which would generally be eaten for breakfast, the love affair with pho in Australia has it on lunch and dinner menus. It’s been a favourite of mine for some time now and I can’t help myself when I see it on a menu.
Pho Cycle have what I’m sure is a very appropriately sized mini bowl of pho, but with eyes bigger than my stomach I went for the big bowl. I never finish it, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying. This time was no different, an admirable effort but falling well short of emptying the bowl. My pho was fragrant, with plenty of flavour without being heavy. The spring onion brightened the palette and the slim slices of beef cooked gently in the broth. There’s no beef balls or tripe to be found at Pho Cycle, just a more accessible version of the classic. Along with digging through the noodles, a bit of brown sauce, fresh shoots and a touch of chilli, this soup was a delicious and filling meal.We also tried the Crispy Chicken, served with an Asian ‘Cold Slaw’ and sweet potato fries. The salad was an absolute winner, light with a satisfying crunch and nutty, crispy bits. They replaced the heavy coleslaw dressing with a tangy and light Asian dressing, a vast improvement on any coleslaw I’ve ever had. If you’re not keen on salad, you might want to try this one before swearing off them completely. The chicken however was a bit of a disappointment given how excellent the meal had been so far, the flavours were right and it was crispy but just needed to be trimmed a bit better.
The sweet potato fries were another interesting addition and a change from the norm. With a nice texture, crispy outside and hint of sweetness we would happily order more to go all on their own. We enquired about this possibility but were told that they’re still working on getting the chips out in larger numbers. It’s something they’re keen on doing eventually so we’ll be keeping an eye on their menu!
We’ve already been back to Pho Cycle multiple times. We’re looking forward to a long and happy dining relationship with our newest local. They’re even a bar in the evening so there’s no reason for us to ever part.