I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write this particular review because frankly, no one likes to be told that they’ve missed the mark, right? But at the same time, if you don’t say anything, how will they know to improve?
So, it’s with a bit of reluctance that I share my first experience at the new Viet place in Box Hill, Pho Chu The.
With my mum’s workplace located in Box Hill, we often lunch there and are quite familiar with the food options available in the area. So when the news spread like wildfire (as it does in an office setting – an email does the trick) that a new player was in town, it was inevitable that my parents and I would find ourselves outside Pho Chu The on their opening day. There are two views when it comes to visiting a new restaurant – They should either have their best game face on to make a good first impression on opening day OR they haven’t yet got a chance to try things out properly so you should give them a bit more time to settle in. For Pho Chu The, it came out the second way.
There was a bit of a wait as we came at the peak lunch hour, but once tables were cleared we found a spot in the front corner. Taking over from the Old Tea House Restaurant, the ceiling was high with lots of natural light filling the space. Medium-sized LCD TV screens were installed though not functioning when we were there for lunch. However, I imagine there’ll be Asian dramas or TV shows showing in the future ;). Tables were finished with different scenes from the Vietnamese landscape which I thought was a nice touch.
As is the trend with the new generation of Asian restaurants, you write up your own order and when you are done, you just press the pager and a staff member comes to collect it. I guess it’s efficient and given that Asian restaurants aren’t known for their great customer service, it probably helps that bit along too.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the positives end. Being at a Vietnamese church for 22 years that had monthly potluck with food after the service every other week, we’ve become quite critical when it comes to authentic Vietnamese food. We started off with a serving of Cha Gio (tom) – Prawn Spring Rolls ($8.50) which weren’t hot enough. It made me think that they had been deep-fried a while ago and they just reheated them before putting it on the plate. Though definitely ‘prawny’, it just wasn’t good enough by our standards.
Sadly, the phở didn’t measure up either. The phở wasn’t hot enough, and the broth in general didn’t have a strong flavour = it hadn’t been cooked for long enough. While there for lunch, my dad saw a friend who works as a butcher and went over and asked what he thought of the food. He said that their meat wasn’t very good quality and was probably from an ‘older cow’ as opposed to a ‘younger cow’ that is more tender (lol, it sounds much less blunt in Viet I swear!). I liked the onion condiments though – probably the only thing I remembered about the meal.
I know the staff were still finding their feet but it doesn’t look really good when you need to make a request (after the phở had arrived) for the plate of bean sprouts and mint that generally accompany the phở. And what is this??
How is one supposed to squeeze the juice out of this?? lol, I was just dumbfounded.
Parents weren’t impressed with their drinks either. The new owners have made use of the bubble tea machines left behind by the last tenants so there is a huge drink menu on offer. I got a Taro milk green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) which was alright I guess. Dad should have stuck to what he knew instead of trying the Mango green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) since he just wasn’t used to it and didn’t like the flavour. Mum chose something that was familiar but didn’t get what she was after… Instead of coconut milk, they used coconut cream for the Three Colour drink ($3.50) which produced a really weird result:
The cream didn’t mix well with the other parts of the drink and I think they forgot to add the sugar syrup as it was very bland = mostly left untouched in the glass :(.
The staff seemed a bit flustered, not really knowing the ropes yet and getting orders confused but I think (and hope) that with a bit of time, things will pick up here.
We did find them a bit pricey for the quality of food that was produced but 20% off the bill (for the first 2 opening weeks – from 19th September) made it a bit more bearable.
*sigh* It’s not nice writing a bad review but I must stress that this was their opening day! They were open from 9am that morning so perhaps with the lack of experience, the quality had dropped over the few hours… My dad has said that he won’t go back unless there is an improvement so I hope that when we revisit, they’ll have ironed out the creases and I’ll be able to report back with more favourable comments. Hope you can visit and make your own assessments.
Pho Chu The
936 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill VIC 3128
Tel: (03) 9890 1688
Trading from: 9am – 10pm (as per advert)
Question: Do you think you should visit on a restaurant’s opening day or is it wiser to give them a bit more time before visiting?
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Royal Melbourne Show giveaway! One more night before the winner is announced :). Edit 24 Sept: Giveaway has ended now.