Saigon Pho

106 Lygon St
Carlton VIC 3053
+61 3 9654 9653

I’m five weeks into a new masters course … and I’m loving it. I’m only doing one subject this semester and I only have to attend an evening class once a week. My campus is only a mere 10 minute tram ride from work, which makes it a breeze to get to. And it feels so damn good not having to read boring 100-page cases. Another good thing about going to this uni (and not the one I went to up until late last year) is that it’s surrounded by a handful of cheapie cafés and Lygon Street is only a stone’s throw away. I’m not usually one to rave about Lygon Street ‘Italian food’ but when you’ve been studying at a university in Clayton for so long, a campus that’s in the middle of nowhere, Lygon Street is a godsend.

Amongst the dime-a-dozen Anglo-Italian cafés and restaurants, gelati stores and Thai restaurants, there is Saigon Phố, probably the only Vietnamese restaurant on the strip. One might initially think that Lygon Street is a strange place to set up a Vietnamese restaurant but I think it makes sense: most people love phố, phố is cheap and uni students love cheap food. I, for one, am normally extremely hungry after my evening class and instead of waiting 45 minutes to reach home before I could eat dinner, I’d prefer to have a quick meal nearby before heading home. As such, cheap and quick options such as phố are ideal.

The restaurant is a simple, no-fuss eatery as are most Vietnamese restaurants. However, little touches such as a chandelier and timber floors make the restaurant stand out from other Vietnamese restaurants in Melbourne. It was a warm evening when I rocked up so I was grateful when a waitress immediately passed some ice-cold water to me as I studied the menu. Although phố is obviously the restaurant’s specialty, other Vietnamese favourites such as Bún bò Huế make the list.

I started off with a serving of prawn spring rolls (six for $7). Although I would have preferred to see little chunks of prawn meat (as opposed to the prawn being minced beyond recognition), I thought the filling tasted great. There was a decent amount of vermicelli in the mix, too. And the best thing? They weren’t too oily.

I enjoyed a small bowl of beef and brisket phố ($8.50). Although the broth did not taste as sharp as I would have liked, it was still tasty in that flat but mellow kind of way. Yeah, okay, so it was not completely free from MSG but it was still great. There was a generous amount of rice noodles, beef and brisket given the size of the bowl so I was happy. The bowl might have been smaller than what other Vietnamese restaurants would consider ‘small’ but it still managed to fill me up (then again, I DID manage to demolish six spring rolls…). It was definitely not the best phố I’ve ever had but by no means, the worse. And hey, keep in mind that this is Lygon Street. I’ll definitely keep coming back for as long as I’m still a student (which at the rate I’m going would probably mean forever, hah).

Saigon Pho (Carlton) on Urbanspoon

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  1. Ohhh you went to Monash Clayton?!? 🙂 I was stuck at Monash Caulfield for 6 years and even though we are kind of close to ‘Chadstone’ and Chapel St the cafes around our Uni wasn’t that great either sighh but do you know the MISCL building at the Clayton Campus? The owner there makes a great mocha ~

    So glad you’re going to Melbourne now hehe and you found a place to have some nice Vietnamese food 😀 it may not be the best but still nice to have when you’re at uni 😀

    1. Yeah, I was at Monash Clayton up until the end of last year. Not anymore though, thank goodness! Unfortunately, I wasn’t on campus very often to try all the cafes etc there so I don’t know the MISCL building (man, I’m terrible) but if I ever had another reason to go there again (probably when my sister has her graduation ceremony at the end of the year?), I’ll be sure to stop by!

  2. Nom nom nom. I love a good pho. Nothing will ever beat my grandma’s home made pho (and my mum’s!)!!

    There’s a pho place in St Albans, on Alfrieda St, next door to Quang Vinh… I heard that its good (I think I read it in The Age… but I don’t trust their review!).. have you been there?

    1. I’ve been to Quang Vinh and am sorta-but-not-really sure that I’ve been to the pho place next to it … or was it the one two shops down from it? Oh, I can’t remember! I guess I need to trek to St Albans for pho again to double-check! 😀

  3. Wow, I didn’t know there was Pho on Lygon?! Good find – will suggested it next time we are there! After 5+ years at Melbourne, I can now say without shame that I chose it partly for it’s close vicinity to good food and the shops :D.

    1. Yep, studying at Melbourne DOES have its perks! I’m glad to see that there are more decent dining options around campus, as there certainly weren’t many when I was an undergrad there. I think this pho place is kinda new too.

    1. Yeah, the Carlton end of Lygon Street is still predominantly Italian but you do get the odd non-Italian places, Chinese, Malaysian, Lebanese etc these days 🙂

  4. Good luck with your masters. Great that you only have to be at uni one night/week. The food at that Vietnamese restaurant looks very good – fresh and healthy and I’m sure very tasty and yet the prices are so good. If I lived in Melbourne I’d be there all the time and I’m not even a Uni student! xx

    1. If I had my way, I’d have pho every day.

      Surely there are great places that have cheap and good pho in Sydney? I haven’t been to Cabramatta yet but I would have to go there one of these days to see if I can find an awesome pho place…

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