One of Canberra’s most-experienced food critics and this paper’s longest-serving columnist, WENDY JOHNSON indulges herself with her top eating experiences for 2018
IT’S been seven years since I first popped into Pho Phu Quoc in Dickson. They were the days when this Vietnamese restaurant was in a tiny space at the bottom end of the Dickson strip, with very little fancy about the place.
Today, Pho Phu Quoc is still in Dickson, but now in bigger, brighter accommodation with a more lively decor. Massive, coloured lanterns hang from the front window and lots of buddhas and Vietnamese decorations are scattered about the place.
One thing’s for sure, food remains the focus and Pho Phu Quoc remains a strong draw card for those enamoured with the wonders of authentic (and inexpensive) Vietnamese cuisine.
Service is lightning-bolt quick. The aim here is to turn tables as often as possible, but without rushing customers.
We started by sharing the fresh and lively pawpaw salad with plump prawns and thin strips of pork ($13.90). The dish had all the elements Vietnamese food is so famous for – sweet, sour, salty, crunchy.
Other entrees that intrigued us were the jellyfish salad (next time; $13.90) and the fun, do-it-yourself campfire beef, which comes to the table in a clay pot over flames. You roll the beef in rice paper and salad and dip it into salty fish sauce ($25).
The house specials caught my eye on my first visit as they did on this visit.
The chilli mussels ($18.90), served in open half shells were superb. They were massive but tender and we delighted in squirting fresh lemon over them. The chilli made its presence known without overpowering the mussels. If you want extra kick, the dish came with fresh, chopped red chilli on the side in a small bowl.
Roast duck is a true specialty of this restaurant and it was just as sensational as the mussels and an incredibly generous serve for $19.90. The skin was crunchy crispy, the meat succulent and the sweet chilli sauce a special addition. Honestly, do not go past this dish if you adore duck.
Other house specialties include salted squid ($17.90), garlic prawns in a clay pot ($22), pepper fish in a clay pot ($21.90) and curry chicken with lemongrass and chilli ($16.90).
We needed some greens and so ordered the good old Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce. We would have preferred just the broccoli… the dish was also fairly loaded with chopped carrot ($13).
Other great regular dishes on the menu include soups, rice and noodle dishes, vegetarian options and main courses of beef, chicken, pork, lamb, prawns and fish.
Pho Phu Quoc is licensed and also sells heaps of fresh juices and shakes.
Pho Phu Quoc, 5 Badham Street, Dickson, open seven days lunch and dinner.