MELBOURNE | Hao Phong is a Footscray institution that’s always full of people enjoying the wide array of authentic Vietnamese and Chinese dishes on offer. The restaurant, like many others in the area, is has a relatively bare bones fit-out while service is neither particularly friendly or rude, it is, as many visitors to South East Asia will be used to, fast and efficient. What Hao Phong does best, and what keeps people returning for more, is the great food.
When we visited Vietnam we fell in love with the food there, and were particular fans of the Com Tam (Broken Rice) that we tried in Ho Chi Minh City. The version at Hao Phong is fantastic – the rice, which is cooked from “broken” rice grains, is topped with beautifully charred grilled pork ribs, shredded pork, pickled vegetables, a half egg, and chopped fish cake chives. To the side is some broth to dip your meat into.
For those who are bit adventurous, try the rare beef, tendon and tripe rice noodle soup. The beef is moist, the tendon gelatinous and the tripe soft yet chewy. In many Asian cuisines, texture is just as important as flavour, and this dish has textural and flavour complexity in spades.
No matter what you order here, make sure you get something that has grilled pork in the description – the tenderness of the meat and the char of the grilled exterior is beautiful. Of course there’s Pho too, but we tend to avoid the Pho when we come here simply because we have other places that we like to visit when we want a Pho fix.
As is the relative permanency of the internet, a Google search for Hao Phong will bring up numerous articles about a salmonella scare in January 2014, where some food was contaminated due to a failed exhaust fan on a hot day. The restaurant was closed for a week while everything was brought to order and has been operating incident-free since, as the constant stream of customers shows.
136 Hopkins Street
Telephone: (03) 9689 8373
Thu – Tue: 10:00am to 9:30pm