Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
It was a bitterly cold day in Sydney – at a max of 11.7C, it was apparently the coldest day in 20 years. Yes, I realise that to some of you, double digit temperatures would be positively balmy, but to me and my tropical bones, it was freezing. So what better way to warm up than with a nice hot bowl of pho with the soup steaming up your glasses?
Eat Fuh made its name in the markets around Sydney. But owner Hoang Nguyen decided to mix things up a little with his recently opened first bricks and mortar shop in Marrickville. As neighbourhoods go, Marrickville isn’t the easiest place to open a new pho place. Every other shop on the street is a Pho bar, including my erstwhile favourites Old Thanh Huong and Pho PHD. But Hoang’s ballsy move paid off – even at lunch time on a Monday, the restaurant was packed, with every table filled and takeaway orders flying out the door.
Traditional pho, topped with your choice of rare beef, chicken, or rare beef and flank is the go-to staple, and there’s even a vegan-friendly option made with vegetable stock. But we decided to try the Hue style noodle soup and the beef stew noodle soup, washed down with a glass of Vietnamese coffee. Portion sizes are massive, so we were more than full, and didn’t have any space left for entrees or dessert. What a pity, because Eat Fuh’s creme brulee comes in five different flavours, including my favourite, durian.
We tend to switch meals halfway through for the variety but this time around, we each had our clear favourites – Hue style for him and beef stew for me. Both dishes are markedly different. The beef stew noodle soup is a hearty concoction filled with chunks of fall-apart beef, radish, carrots and thin slices of ginger in a beef stew made richer with tomato paste. My addition of chopped chili and a spritz of lemon juice from the condiment cart packed with lemon wedges, chilli, hoi sin sauce, sriracha and more tweaked the noodles just to my liking.
The Hue style noodle soup was more mellow, with rice noodles in a beefy broth accented with a strong whiff of belacan or fermented chilli and shrimp paste. Like all pho, this one was packed with vegetables and of course, slices of beef shin. It was delicious, but after the intensity of the beef stew noodle soup, this one paled in comparison.
The Vietnamese coffee was a great accompaniment to the meal, although perhaps the ice (not obvious from the menu) wasn’t great for the weather. It was sweet, like most coffees from Southeast Asia, but strong and flavourful. The only gripe was that the straw was too thin to easily get the liquid through.
With Eat Fuh’s move to a shop, fans no longer have to wait for them to show up at their local market. At $14 for a regular bowl of pho and $16 for a large ($15 for the Hue style noodle soup and $16 for the beef stew noodle soup), this isn’t the cheapest pho place on the street. But even my penny-pinching soul is willing to stump up the extra cash for these delicious bowls of noodles.
274 Illawarra Road
0416 880 997
Open daily 11am – 10pm
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