What the Pho!
Situated on Aberdeen Street with a perky green decor, is the humorously named pseudo Vietnamese restaurant What the Pho!
I've eaten here a few times since it's close to my work, clean and the quality of produce tends to be fresh and decent. It is not, as they try to sell it, a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. The pho I've eaten here doesn't quite live up to the impressive standards of Tra Vinh, but it is a great start for those unfamiliar with this cuisine and who want to try it in a more Westernised setting.
That said, there are some fabulous things on the menu that I am a big fan of. There's the duck pancakes which come with a nice little hot chilli on top - tiny and perhaps a little expensive but damn they taste good! There's also the great novelty that they don't just serve wine, they also have some beer and cider for a more relaxed way of drinking during eating.
It's a perfect day for a pear cider and choosing something different from their menu as I sit down with some of my work colleagues.
There's some vermicilli noodles with spring rolls chosen by one in the group (they come out looking vibrant and delicious), stir-fried vegetables by another. But two of us instantly gravitate to a dish I actually haven't had here before but is very similar to a Taiwanese dish I grew up on at home.
It's lightly fried prawns, lychees, rockmelon and watermelon coated in a thin layer of mayonnaise and sesame seeds ($22.90).
Lightly fried prawns with lychee, rockmelon and watermelon
I've eaten my similar dish so many times I can't count it. But traditionally the mayonnaise is a lot heavier and the fruit used is pineapple or peaches.
However, that said it tastes enjoyable. Not earth-shattering or life-changing, but it definitely does the job. The lychees and watermelon are sweet, which works well with the creaminess of the mayonnaise. The prawns are fried perfectly but sadly have lost most of their heat by the time they reach the table. But there's a decent quantity and on this sunny day, they go down a treat.
What the Pho! is full of staff that are friendly and happy; and the food is nothing to complain about if you go in knowing that you will not get traditional flavours here. What you do get is fresh ingredients, generous servings (for most dishes) and a place that you can sit and people watch while eating. And there's definitely some interesting characters on this street given it's near a couple pubs and some backpackers.