Pho Toan Thang

I’ve lived on the North Shore my whole life so far, and often head south to the city on a weekly basis, and occasionally a little over to the west around the Ryde area for my gym classes and so forth. I haven’t explored Sydney half as much as I would love to, and so when The Sister suggested a day trip to Flemington with The Parents and her fiance, I was interested in taking up the opportunity to expand my horizons a little.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this sign as soon as we got out of the car at our destination, however…

IMG_8102The streets were lined with Vietnamese restaurants, Chinese restaurants, grocers full of exotic fruits and vegetables and for some reason the carpark was full but there really weren’t that many people around. We spent the first couple of hours browsing through the fish shops and grocers, and I was delighted to find one of my favourite root vegetables, taro, readily available at almost every grocer.

IMG_8096You also of course had your typical Chinese BBQ butchers, with the racks of ducks, chicken and pork all gleaming with their honey glaze. The Sister’s Fiance and me stood staring open-mouthed through the window at all the glistening protein, while he pointed out to me the what’s what of the trays of giblets and other animal bits.

IMG_2771After our shopping sesh, we started to feel a tad peckish and The Sister began to steer us towards Pho Toan Thang, which had a bit of a reputation for being one of the busiest Vietnamese restaurants in Strathfield. It was 2.00 pm and the place was still full, with a minimal line out the door.

IMG_8072The decor inside isn’t much to speak of. A clean tiled floor, clean white walls with a tiled edge, and blown-up copies of the menu mounted on the walls for easy viewing. You have a clean table and a squeaky but stable plastic chair. Do you really need much more for a quick lunch though?

IMG_2784There’s a tray of condiments at each table which contains two types of hot sauce, a jar of chopped chillies, fish sauce, soy and other things. You’re given a pot of tea on the house when you’re seated – don’t ask me what type of tea it was, I have no idea. It was brown in colour and tasted all right! Perhaps a roasted rice tea?

IMG_8076We had a look through the menu and I was quite excited as this would be my first ever taste of pho noodle soup. Luckily with the whole family here, we were able to sample a wider range from the menu and everyone selected different menu items.

Pho noodle soup traditionally comes with bean sprouts, fresh basil and lemons. We requested our bean sprouts to be blanched, as none of us were too fond of raw sprouts.


IMG_8078It was only a short wait before our dishes began to arrive, each hitting the table in quick succession. Mum’s Seafood Rice Noodle Soup ($11.50) was the first, a light noodle soup with lots of vege stems, a few prawns and cuttlefish pieces, topped with a sprinkling of sliced spring onion and fried eschallots.

IMG_8079Dad had also gone down the seafood path, requesting the Seafood Hot Pot with Rice ($13) which arrived with a quick warning from the waitress to keep his hands away from the scalding pot.

IMG_8088It was much like the contents of Mum’s soup, with a bit more and a few scallops as well. He got some food envy from the tables around us and someone asked the waitress what it was that he had.

Wanting to start my pho experience with something traditional, I had opted for the Tender Beef Rice Noodle Soup ($9) as I wasn’t sure how rare the Rare Beef Rice Noodle Soup was, and I had heard that the combination beef contained tendons and so forth – something I’m not overly fond of.

IMG_8080I was a bit surprised at how clear the broth was. I was probably expecting something a little cloudier, not so much like a consomme. It was still quite flavoursome, although I’m no pho connoisseur, of course. The rice noodles were gorgeously slippery, and the beef tender and very thinly sliced. With a generous squeeze of lemon and shredded basil, I hoovered up more than half of my bowl of noodle soup before I had to concede defeat.

The Sister and her fiance had both ordered rice noodle soups with meat on the side, and their plain rice noodle soups were the first to arrive, with a few refreshing leaves of submerged iceberg lettuce:

IMG_8081The proteins then arrived, all deliciously brown in their glory. The Crispy chicken ($10 with the soup) was a large, tender maryland that had just the right amount of crunch on the outside, while the meat was quite plainly salted. Combined with the plain pho though, you wouldn’t want too much of a flavour clash.

IMG_8086The lean Crispy Pork Chop ($10 with the soup) was cooked in a similar way to the crispy chicken – just the right amount of texture, crunch and flavour to be a good accompaniment with the light soup.

IMG_8084All of our servings were simply enormous and not one of us managed to finish our own servings, even when we helped each other out. As we made our way out, people continued to file into the restaurant at 3.00 pm, past the conventional lunch time. I also heard a few people order the tomato rice, which I may check out if I come here again.

Overall, a pleasant introduction to pho noodle soup and I’ll be using this experience as the standard for many more pho experiences to come 🙂

Pho Toan Thang
Shop A 95 The Crescent
Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9764 3687

Pho Toan Thang on Urbanspoon

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Miss_5ft0 says:

    Great pho post – though I can’t wait to see you venture down to Bankstown and Cabramatta for more South-East Asian cuisines. In regards to pho tai (rare beef noodle soup), it’s not as rare as you think. The beef is cut into very thin strips and you push it down into the soup in order to cook it. It’s very soft and flavoursome too.

  2. i’ve always wondered on whether the many Vietnamese restaurants in Flemington are good. a friend told me that the best Pho in Sydney is at Flemington but cannot remember the name of the restaurant. should check it out one day

    1. Really now? There’s so many places but this one seemed the most crowded – worth checking out anyway! 🙂

  3. Dear Cath,

    Nice review. The standout dish at this restaurant is their salted fish fried rice which IMHO is the best in Australia.

    1. I’ll have to try that next time 🙂

  4. I have been going to Pho Toan Thang since I started working Rhodes in 1997. I have tried Pho in a few other places, but this one is the best by far. The business seems to be family run – a lot of the wait staff are still the same from 15 years ago! There is always a queue at lunch time – though you rarely wait more than 10 minutes – and the tea is directly brought to the table to get you in the mood when you sit down. I usually go the Deep Fried Pork Noodle Soup, but have ventured a little further on occasions. One of my colleagues has also been coming for nearly as long as I have. He has only ever ordered item number 1, the Pho Bo (Rare Beef Noodle Soup). He says it is so good, he is frightened to go any further down the menu he might be disappointed!!

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