I Love Pho is a great authentic restaurant located in Crows Nest. Beyond the classic noodle soup dish of Pho, the menu at I Love Pho is quite extensive and has a lot of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. I order all my favourites as part of their new signature menu.I Love Pho is located in Crows Nest on the main strip and has outside seating and indoor seating. You'll often see people with their dogs or their prams outside while having lunch.
Emma Nguyen, owner of I Love Pho is of Vietnamese descent which makes for legit Vietnamese food. I've been to quite a few Vietnamese restaurants recently where the owners are Chinese or Korean and the food is a bastardised version of the Vietnamese food so I'm glad I'm at a proper Viet restaurant today.
Matt goes for the 333 Vietnamese Beer and I go for a Vietnamese iced lemon tea to start the meal off. A nice refreshing way to start the meal while I enjoy the surroundings of Crows Nest as we sit outside. I notice a few new things on the menu and I'm eager to try the food.
First off are the Vietnamese Baos ($9.80 for 2) with options of Eggplant or Crispy Pork Belly. Matt loves Pork Belly so that's what we order. With radished carrot, cucumber and hoi sin sauce, the pork baos were delicious with familiar Vietnamese flavours.
I smiled at Matt when I saw that there's a new signature mixed entree tasting plate ($15.50). It had all my favourites including a prawn fresh rice paper roll, a minced prawn skewer on sugar cane, two signature spring rolls (they are a must order) and two nem nuong pork skewers which are Matt's favourite. With the herbs, I basically savour all the flavours of the fresh rice paper roll which best goes with the peanut hoi sin sauce (the brown one). I love the minced prawn stick with sugar cane where you chew on the sugar cane for additional sweetness which goes best with the lighter fish sauce. The Spring Rolls are best on their own in my opinion as is the nem nuong. I don't think I've ever had sweet chilli sauce so that must be a modern twist for the western palette. I highly recommend this dish if you are looking for a sample of Vietnamese entrees. Love it
Next up is a dish which I've been craving - the Rice Noodles with prawns ($7.60). These silky sheets of rice noodles are texturally perfect and delicately are layered and encase the prawns. This dish is served up with a well balanced fish sauce that is mildly spicy. I really enjoy the smooth and silky rice noodles with the slightly tangy sauce. What's missing for my palette is probably a herb or two to bring the freshness out. I take some of the herbs from the mixed entree tasting platter and savour the mixture of flavours in my mouth. Love it.
With the warmer weather upon us, I also predict the beef, mango and lime Vietnamese salad will be incredibly popular. There's also a few prawn crackers to add additional crunch. The salad is also topped with chopped nuts. The salad is refreshing and very flavoursome with all the fresh components coming together. The mango adds a nice sweetness to the salad. I recommend.
Our last dish that we try is the Duck Savoury Crispy Pancake ($18.50) aka banh xeo. I absolutely love the Vietnamese savoury pancake as I often ate this dish growing up. It's served up with a side of herbs which adds a refreshing element along with the tangy sauce. You can also get vegetarian or prawn/pork options as well although this new duck pancake is mighty tasty. Within the pancake, there's a lot of beansprouts and duck.
Summary: A great venue for authentic Vietnamese. It's a great place for a healthy lunch or dinner full of herbs, flavours and balance.
I love the entree mix tasting plate and rice noodles with prawns and the banh xeos - Vietnamese savoury pancakes.
Location: 47 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest
Website for full menu: www.ilovepho.com.au
Opening Hours: Everyday 11am to 10pm
Weekend Food Escapes dined as guests of Ompty Media. All words, opinions and photos are my own.