Review: Pho Nom (Melbourne, VIC)

Shop 33, Lower Ground Floor
Emporium Melbourne
287 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 8609 8221

It’s no secret that pho happens to be one of my favourite dishes in the world. There is something special about slurping a broth flavoured with beef bones, a bunch of magical roasted spices, herbs and perhaps a dash of MSG to keep the tastebuds dancing like they’re on crack. The best places to eat pho in Melbourne are Footscray, Richmond and Springvale – and these days, the city.

Given how popular Vietnamese food is with the young and cool kids these days, it’s no surprise that the once humble and limelight-shying cuisine has been shoved into the hipster spotlight. And all of a sudden, we now have several dozen pho places in the city to choose from. Some are very good while others are atrocious. Thankfully, Jerry and David Mai’s Pho Nom is one of the good ones.

Nestled on the lower ground floor of Emporium Melbourne is Pho Nom, a pho specialist that has been attracting a lot of social media attention thanks to its ‘no MSG’ pho. I’ve been to Pho Nom several times already and it’s definitely up there with one of my favourite places to have an early lunch in. I just go to the counter, order my dish and plonk myself on a table with a book to read or a manuscript to edit as I sit there enjoying my pho.


You help yourself to all the garnishes and sauces at Pho Nom. It’s a good idea because it means that you don’t see a lot of plates of bean shoots being left to waste once the patrons leave.

Pho bo Hanoi ($11)
Pho bo Hanoi ($11)

You can’t go wrong with beef pho; on more than once occasion, I’ve ordered the sliced beef pho. The Saigon version comes with brisket and beef balls for an extra buck and if you’re feeling fancy, you can even get the wagyu version for $15.


Given that the brother doesn’t have any MSG, it doesn’t pack a lot of punch. As a result, the broth is a lot more delicate – some even say it’s TOO delicate. However, it’s a small price to pay for not having to walk around with an annoying tickle down your throat (the result of eating a dish with too much MSG in it). On other occasions, I’ve tried the chicken and beef pho which is also quite nice. And on all occasions, I’ve had Vietnamese iced coffee because screw trying to work on zero caffeine.

Pho Nom definitely sets the bar high for excellent pho in Melbourne city – and MSG-free pho while we’re at it. Perhaps the no MSG thing will encourage other places to do the same and that can only be a good thing.

Phở Nom on Urbanspoon

I eat too much.


  1. Jess
    September 3, 2014

    I’ve been wondering about this place since it opened but haven’t read many reviews from “real” people yet – that’s awesome that its MSG free and help-yourself with garnishes and sauces! A lot more eager to try it out now!

  2. Choc Chip Uru
    September 3, 2014

    Your right the pho does look quite excellent! Your photos show how fresh it is 😀
    And MSG free? What a bonus!

    Choc Chip Uru

  3. threehands
    September 4, 2014

    Who needs msg when there’s all that tasty condiments around.
    I’ve heard lots of good eateries at emporium, I still haven’t been

    1. libishski
      September 10, 2014

      Agreed! And you must go!

  4. Powdamonkee
    June 9, 2015

    I first stumbled across the work of Jerry & David Mai and Pho Nom when they were one of the pop-up restaurants at the Royal Melbourne Show in 2014 and was instantly hooked!

    Not only has Jerry worked in some Michelin starred restaurants both here and abroad (And has a crazy Mohawk that scares some more pedestrian reviewers bless her !), but they are also really fun and welcoming people – willing to share some of the heavy hitter recipes with you from the Mai’s family playbook !

    Every-time I come to the city for a hair cut (about once a month), my family and I beat our religious pilgrimage to Pho Nom ! Personally I love the Wagyu Pho as you can steep each piece of meat individually in the fantastic broth – to cook it to your liking – as is authentic!

    The salt and pepper chicken ribs also blow your mind !!! Cautionary note with the Sriracha Chilli Sauce – go sparingly with this as it will blow your sox off ! I have to remind myself to exercise caution each time !


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