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Pho Tau Bay

Pho Tau Bay was a restaurant that was not on my radar for the longest time. However, it was no secret to a large proportion of Sydney’s food enthusiast population as it was voted the best pho in Sydney in poll conducted on the food blog Noodlies during the latter part of 2010. That was when it first came to my attention.

Curiosity had gotten the better of me. No matter how far afield I had to travel, I just had to find out how good this pho really was. 

 

Pho Tau Bay can be somewhat tricky to find, especially for those that rely on their GPS as a blind person does their guide dog. The main issue being that whilst the official address of the store is on John St, the actual entrance to the store is around the corner and a couple of stores down on Hill St.

Once inside, the restaurant is rather typical of the cheap, casual Asian dining establishments that are ubiquitous to Sydney’s foodscape. Other than a rather impressive model of a wooden boat as you walk in, there’s little else worth mentioning that can’t be found in other, similar restaurants.

 

Pho Tai ($10) – Tender slices of raw beef, onions & spring onions sit on top of a mound of slippery rice noodles submerged in a large steaming bowl of beef broth. A generous handful of beansprouts, a couple of sprigs of basil and a lemon wedge lie in wait on a plastic side dish; textural and aromatic subnotes to be incorporated at the diner’s discretion prior to consumption.

The contents of the bowl, complete with the additions from the side dish, are turned over and stirred through with a pair of chopsticks, taking care not to spill a single drop of the flavourful broth. The raw slices of beef shift from deep red to grey as they cook in the soup. Suggestions of a pinkish hue still linger in the meat as the left hand slowly reaches towards a bottles of hoisin and sriracha; sauces to season and compliment the flavours of the soup. The right hand takes up a spoon, ladling a small amount of the broth. The first taste of that aromatic, spice-laden soup.

The left hand halts just short of the condiments, hesitating for a moment as the balance of flavours and the amount of seasoning required is considered. A small squirt of hoisin and a couple of the spicy sriracha chili sauce, a quick stir with the chopsticks and the bowl of beef pho is ready to be eaten.

 

If the image doesn’t speak for itself, the pho was really, really good. I’d argue one of the best in Sydney, though personally not my favourite. That honour that goes to Pho Bac Hai Duong, a well-regarded pho restaurant that’s also made the best pho poll and that I’ve posted about previously.

Maybe it a Ford vs Holden thing, in that the differences are less about an actual disparity of apparent quality and more a reflection of my personal preferences? There is no question that this was a damn fine bowl of Pho, one I’m sure I’ll be back for in future. Of that, there is no doubt. It’s just not what I consider to be the best, in spite of what the poll may otherwise suggest.

If you’ve been to both restaurants, I’ve love to hear what your opinion is on the matter. If you’ve yet to try the pho at Pho Tau Bay, or even ventured out to Cabramatta for that matter, do make the time to go. Prior to going to Pho Tau Bay I had no interest or inclination of making the trip out there. Now, there’s a growing list of restaurants in Cabramatta and the surrounding areas that I’m keen to check out. Cabramatta is probably one of Sydney’s most underrated eating destinations. It’s a destination I no longer take for granted.

Pho Tau Bay
12/117 John Street, Cabramatta (enter via Hill St)
(02) 9726 4583

Trading Hours
Mon-Sun: 8am-7pm

 


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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Julie March 4, 2011, 12:26 pm

    This is still on my list to try. Pho An use to top my list of pho places but I dont know the quality is bad lately. Thanks for the review!
    Julie recently posted..Sake Restaurant

    • Simon March 4, 2011, 10:56 pm

      Sorry to hear that drop in quality. Haven’t been there for a while but enjoyed it the last time I was there.

  • thang@noodlies March 4, 2011, 1:00 pm

    you should have told me you were down.. could da have lunch together!

    • Simon March 4, 2011, 10:58 pm

      I think this was mid-week quite a while back.

      If I’m ever in the area, I’ll get in touch :)

  • Wendy @ Obesebaby March 4, 2011, 1:00 pm

    I found pho is a really personal perference thing. and for those who came from Viet they find the pho here has been westernlised and overly strong as they usually eat pho for breakfast and it is a much more light version
    Wendy @ Obesebaby recently posted..Thai grilled pork neck – Moo Ping

    • Simon March 4, 2011, 10:59 pm

      Ah, that’s interesting to note. I’ve always wanted to go to Vietnam so it would be interesting to see how its done by the locals.

  • Gaby March 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

    In the end, “the best” of anything is always subjective. Things like your mood, the weather or your dining companion can make a huge difference in your perception of a meal. Having said that, I have a huge respect for a big bunch of food bloggers’ opinions, so I appreciate knowing that this place is worth the trip.
    Gaby recently posted..Recipe- Causa de atún

    • Simon March 4, 2011, 11:02 pm

      Perhaps that’s so though I wager that the extent of that effect is limited. I can’t see an average meal becoming something great when all the other planets come into perfect alignment, so to speak.

      Hope you find it worth the trip like I did :)

  • joey@FoodiePop March 4, 2011, 9:37 pm

    Call me cheap, but Cabra is too far west for me to try a bowl of pho when there are good ones closer. :-)

    • Simon March 4, 2011, 11:08 pm

      I wouldn’t call you cheap. Seems like a sensible approach if the distance is far to travel.

      I just found that my perception of what was too far to travel and worthy of effort changed once I traveled there and tried the food. Looking back to other times, I’ve traveled far greater distances in Sydney for lesser food. In the end it wasn’t as far as I first thought, nor as painful to get to.

      You’re free to see otherwise but that’s just my experience :)

  • chopinandmysaucepan April 14, 2011, 3:05 pm

    Great photo of that pipping hot broth and it looks delicious. How does this compare with Pho An which is still my favourites although I know some people do not like it. Apart from the great pho which is served within 43 seconds flat, I guess the price is also a factor as I think it’s now $13.00 a bowl although it’s pretty huge.

    • Simon May 18, 2011, 1:37 am

      It’s been a long time since I’ve last been to Pho An, so I’m not sure that I can really comment. The last time I went, about two years ago, it was good but I don’t believe it was as good as this was.

  • muppy March 6, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I went to here for the first time a couple of weeks ago because i read it in SBS feast, i took the whole family and a couple of our friends who are familiar with cabramatta. I loved it, but have nothing to compare it with! the service was the funniest thing, there were 6 of us (including kids) and we all ordered a dish (including a seafood one for my 4yr old – which she loooooved) and then tried to order an extra dish to share – they wouldn’t let us -“you already have 5”!!!
    It was the funniest experience because when the brought out the ‘cooked’ beef dish for my pregnant friend they insisted it was for my daughter. We had to wait until the left us alone so we could re organise the table!
    muppy recently posted..Ginger Biscuits filled with Lemon, Ginger and White Pepper Buttercream

    • Simon March 8, 2012, 9:41 pm

      Lol! That is rather funny. Though, I love places like that that are concerned about you over-ordering. Goes to show that they’re not just in it for the money :)

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