An important disclaimer you need to read before viewing this post: I do not consider myself an expert to critically analyse and discuss Vietnamese cuisine. Not to say, I am an expert of other types of food, but I have had significantly more experience at eating them than Vietnamese. I constantly hear how great (and economical) Vietnamese is in Melbourne. Thus, I took it on board and drove down to none other than Victoria Street, Richmond to a widely popular spot called ‘I love Pho 264′ to check it out.
What a unique name for a restaurant. I think the owners must really admire the pho that comes out of their kitchen. Alternatively, is it what the customers are meant to think after they have visited this place? All that really comes to my mind when I think of “I love” phrases is Brick Tamland’s (from Anchorman’s) “I Love Lamp” quote. Classic.
We chose to dine here on a Saturday night and what a packed dining room it was. When we arrived at 7:00pm there were limited empty tables. By the time we left at 7:30 there was a small queue forming out the doorway on the cold street. Approximately 10 hungry chommers. Upon arrival, I was surprised that they took reservations and even more so that they kept our table free. We were in a big rush before the footy. It worked out well that they held the table for us and even better that you are served your food within 5 minutes of ordering it. Generation Y and university students seem to make up the bulk of their customer base. Wow do they have voices on them! This place isn’t meant for a quiet meal.
As an entree we had great pork and prawn rice paper rolls ($5.00 for 4). For all the maths heads out there, that equates to $1.25 per roll. Cheap! I loved these because they were nice and fat, with a generous amount of insides. Not to mention a delicious dipping sauce. The only other starter that we were aware of was a variety of spring rolls.
You can tell by the name that people come here for the Pho. They come in three sizes, small, medium and large. We only found this out by overhearing the table next to us order. The three of us all ordered the medium size. We would consider ourselves as pretty good eaters and we were very full after this. I would recommend the small or medium, depending on your hunger level. Above is the beef and brisket pho ($10.00). Generous combination of soft pieces of meat and flat rice noodles for each of the servings. The broth was served warm, not as hot as we would have liked. Still, very passable. I made a concoction of complimentary chilli and hoi sin sauce to add some extra kick. Wasn’t necessary but I like to add sauce anyway. A shared plate of lemon, basil and bean shoots was provided. A few handfuls of them were thrown into the bowl too. I tried each of these (all the same but the meat) – they were all delicious.
Chicken and beef pho with steamed vegetables ($10.00) (vegetables were requested). Nice to see some vegetables in the broth. Will be adding these few in for next time.
Shredded chicken pho ($10.00).
Bowl of chilli for desert?
Now, you may ask, did I ‘love’ Pho 264? Truth be told, love is a very hard word to comprehend. I may respond by saying, ‘What is love? baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more’. I can usually tell if I have fallen into love with a place if I have either; dreamed about the food that night or sit reminiscing my wonderful time the next day. Neither of these happened. Needless to say, you cannot always have such strong feelings towards each place you dine at. If you ask, would I return? The answer is yes. I love Pho 264 was fast, cheap and delicious. If you are looking to fulfill those criteria then this is the place for you.
The Important Details…
Noise: Lots of chit chat
Bookings: Yes – Not sure how much it will be honoured
Suitable for: All pho fans
Dress: As you wish
Price: $10 – $15 per head
My View: Cheap and cheerful
Address: 264 Victoria Street, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9427 7749