The title of this article is so because its a bit of a statement and a question at the same time. Vietnamese food is something I’ve only been eating for 3 or 4 years now and many of the dishes are still quite new to me. However, Pho Bo or Vietnamese Beef Soup was the very first of the vietnamese dishes I tried. I have to say, I was immediately hooked.
I have now tried Pho from a number of places. There is a place in the central markets that I quite like and there is a little cafe just off Rundle Mall that is quite good too. I’ve also tried it in different cities in the various vietnamese neighbourhoods around Australia. Pho Ba Ria 2 on Hanson Road is the best I have tried so far.
If you havent tried Pho before, it can be a bit of a revelation and if you truly love beef, as I do, I would say that your first Pho experience could be religious in nature. The stock should be clear and full in flavour from beef but with overtones coming from spices such as star anise. Here, like many other places, the Pho comes in a number of varieties from plain beef to cooked brisket with raw fillet, some sot of sliced sausage and tripe. You generally always also get a separate plate of bean sprouts, coriander and basil leaves as well as some fresh sliced chilli. I always make it as hot as I can handle it ’cause that is how I roll!
At Pho Ba Ria 2, I usually always go for the Pho with Fresh and Cooked Beef and I ALWAYS get the fresh noodles after I was ordered to do so by an asian friend of mine.
Pho with Fresh and Cooked Beef and Fresh Noodles – $10 (Large)
Crispy Quail $6
This Quail is perhaps the most understated dish on the menu. The words ‘crispy quail’ to me merely signify a little piece of poultry that due to its bone to meat ratio makes it hardly worth the effort. However to use the analogy that banh mi is sometimes referred to as ‘Saigon Subway’ then these Quail’s could just as easily be referred to as ‘Khe Sanh KFC’! Even the picture alone does not prepare you for the party that hits your tastebuds when you try this little thing. It is a whole marinated Quail that has been deep fried until crisp and served with a wedge of lemon a combination of salt and pepper and a little salad. At Pho Ba Ria, it also comes with two little cornchions which cut the fat a little and provide a nice little sour kick. I don’t even know if this is how it is done in Vietnam but I can tell you that it is damned tasty. I think I could go to this restaurant just to eat this dish alone. It is one of the best things I’ve eaten and I can thoroughly recommend it…in fact I DO thoroughly recommend that you head down there now and try one of these little things and you’d better get there before I do!!
Finally, whilst the place is a little sparse and perhaps not located in the best area, this place is totally worth going to. Like many other places in the area, it is clearly family owned and run and the staff are really welcoming and friendly. They are always trying to impress my daughter and my wife adores the place too. However, they only accept cash (no credit cards). My rating of the place is reflective only of the area and the decor. If my review was rated on food alone, it would get top marks…
So the question is, does this place do the best Pho in Adelaide? From my experience, I have to say it is the best I have tried, however, I would love to hear your thoughts, do you think it is the best and if not, where should I go next?