Pho Toan Thang
Time Out says
There might be a dozen restaurants near Flemington station but Pho Toan Thang is the only one you can guarantee will have a queue out the front
A long-held favourite with locals, the dining room is heaving with families, toddlers, couples, groups of friends and wizened pensioners. During peak hours, the queue out the front can be twenty-deep. Pho Toan Thang might have a Vietnamese name, but the menu covers both Vietnamese and Cantonese dishes. The dining room offers the usual DIY set-up, with chopsticks, cutlery, condiments and tissues-for-napkins on every table. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to share your table with others during busy periods.
The classic pho dac biet, or combination beef rice noodle soup gets star billing on the menu, a huge bowl of clear broth packed with rice noodles, beef tendon, beef balls and thin shavings of beef. The crisp chicken with tomato rice is a winner, the skin rendered to a glassy tile that shatters at first bite. The deep-fried pork chop also comes up trumps, so juicy and sweet you’ll end up gnawing the bone to claim every last skerrick. But it’s the tomato rice that accompanies both that will blow your mind completely. Where other places tend to serve up a bright orange rice that’s heavy on the bottled tomato sauce and overly sweet, here it’s a deeper tinge of tan with more savoury notes, caramelised edges and hints of high heat smokiness known as “wok breath”.
It’s this wok breath or “wok hei” that makes the fried rice here so special too. You’ll find bits of dark and crunchy morsels in amongst the beef fried rice, plumped up with peas, shallots and fluffy omelette clouds. For a real flavour hit, get the fried rice with salted fish and chicken, the salty bursts of preserved fish contrasting with the tender strips of marinated chicken.
If you’re still hungry, plough your way through an assortment of hot pots that run from black pepper pork trotters to duck feet with sea cucumber and mushrooms. They’ve got all your old skool favourites too, like spring rolls, fried wontons, sweet and sour pork and yep, even sizzling Mongolian beef.