Marc and I were just discussing how we rarely go to Chinatown in the Valley for food when an opportunity to do so came up. We met Garthritis there for lunch last Saturday. It happened to be Valley Fiesta weekend and there was a live performance at Duncan Street. We ducked around into Pho B where it was relatively quieter and started perusing the menu.
I noticed Pho B when it first opened, back when I was studying at uni. It came across as a fast food-style chain pho stall. I pictured big plastic bowls and lots of takeaway orders. Now that I've been inside, I have to ammend that to describe Pho B as a regular Vietnamese eatery with a multi-paged menu (including some Thai and Chinese dishes) and sit-down dining area. It's cleaner and furnished more pleasantly than the really authentic Asian eateries in Sunnybank and Inala but that's expected for an inner city venture.
As I've mentioned, the menu has all the usual Vietnamese offerings, though perhaps not as extensive as the Vietnamese restaurants that I normally go to. I couldn't find DIY rice paper rolls, for one thing.
Prawn rice paper rolls
Marc and I ordered a couple of starters to share. The prawn rice paper rolls were large and full but to my disappointment, mostly consisted of rice noodles. When I roll my own rice paper rolls, I omit rice noodles completely because they do nothing for me. Here, I found the rice paper rolls completely tasteless because the prawn portion was so miniscule.
San choi bao
The san choi bao were rather large. I noticed that the lettuce cups were trimmed into rounds, which was a nice detail. The filling was really flavorsome but a tad too salty. It wasn't so bad that it stopped me from eating it all though.
Salt and pepper squid
My main was the entree-sized salt and pepper squid. It also comes in an actual main size but I'm glad I didn't order that because I found the entree size hefty enough. Garthritis was starving and his main hadn't arrived so he started picking at the fried capsicum and carrot garnishings. He seemed to enjoy it. I liked this dish because the batter was light and crunchy and the squid didn't taste stale or rubbery.
Pho rare beef noodle soup
Marc's main was the pho. Since we were at Pho B, I expected their pho to be a winner. What was disappointing was that they forgot to bring out the little plate of herbs, lemon and bean sprouts that accompany beef pho. I would have thought they just don't do it at Pho B but other tables got theirs. We should have said something but Marc was too lazy to grab a waiter. I asked him how the pho was and he also gave a lazy reply: 'pretty good'.
Thai green chicken curry
Garthritis went against the grain and ordered a Thai dish for his main. When his green chicken curry was brought out, we all remarked at how, well, green it was. The sauce was a creamy opaque green and by the time he had mixed it up with the rice, the rice was also alarmingly green. We joked that they put food dye in it but for all I know, it may as well have contained food dye. Garthritis didn't love his dish. The rice was gluggy and overcooked and the menu had described this dish with 2 cartoon chilies (indicating some degree of hotness) but he claimed it wasn't hot at all.
I'm neutral about Pho B. It's probably an alright place for a quick and inexpensive bite if you're out in the valley. As far as Vietnamese food goes, I much prefer The Vietnamese, which is just around the corner.