138 Russell St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
As a little girl, I absolutely adored Nikki Webster. I didn’t care that none of my friends thought she was cool; I just couldn’t get enough of her strawberry-sweet pop tunes (see what I did there?). In fact, hers was the very first CD I ever bought, and I remember listening to it on repeat every night before bed. There was a song on that album called 24/7 (Crazy ‘bout Your Smile), and it was my absolute favourite. I will even go as far as to admit that I still nurse a soft spot for that song to this day, and when I heard of the restaurant called Twenty-Pho Seven, Nikki Webster became stuck in my head once more, just like she did when I was 10.
Anyway, enough about my dubious taste in music – I’m here to tell you about pho. To be specific, pho at all hours of the day, around the clock, whenever you want it. Because that’s exactly what this understatedly cool hole-in-the-wall restaurant is all about. The bar seating area even comes with touch-screen ordering, so you can avoid talking to anyone when you’re hung-over at an ungodly hour.
The bar stocks a full array of drinks, but I’m more into the Lychee Bubble Tea ($5.5). Freshly brewed and not overly sweet, with a trove of popping boba at the bottom, this is a classic drink done well. You can even ask them to booze it up, if you’re so inclined.
Despite specialising in pho, Twenty-Pho Seven actually has a full array of classic Vietnamese dishes, from vermicelli salads (bun) and pork rolls (banh mi), to snacks such as skewers, spring rolls, and some truly excellent Prawn Rice Paper Rolls ($9.9, 2pcs). Instead of being soggy and bulked up with lettuce, these were stuffed full of fat prawns, fresh herbs, and crispy veggies. I was especially impressed with the dipping sauce, which was a punchy sweet and savoury combination of hoisin and fish sauce, sprinkled with peanuts and surprisingly fiery slices of chilli. This is rice papers rolls as they are meant to be.
The Pork and Prawn Spring Rolls ($9, 6pcs) also hit the mark. The freshly fried batons were well-drained and clean on the palate, and the centre was meaty and substantial. Spring rolls may be the low hanging fruit most of the time, but they sure are tasty when done well like they are here.
Despite being a slick city spot, the Combination Beef Pho ($13.9) is serious business. All the trimmings are there, from tripe to tendon, served alongside slippery, elastic noodles. The soup is light and clean, neither overly salty nor too heavily seasoned. The pure flavour of beef and spices in the stock was incredibly nourishing, and exactly the kind of thing you’d want to eat after a big night out.
I was impressed with the food at Twenty-Pho Seven. The quality of the ingredients, and the care taken with preparation, is miles beyond that of your traditional cheap and cheerful restaurants. Most importantly, they achieve all of this without sacrificing on flavour. The menu is certainly on the pricier side, but I think it’s justified given its location and quality, as well as the fact that they need to staff the place around the clock. So now we have 24/7 souvlakis, ramen, and pho. I can’t help but wonder what’s next.
Rating: 13/20 – twenty-pho seven you are on my mind.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Twenty-Pho Seven.