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Mar 11, 2007 06:49 PM

Pho in Wellington

Had dinner @ the Mekong Cafe in Wellington. I had the Pho/Beef combination (cooked beef, rare beef, and meatballs) and the SO had the Pho/Rare Beef. I found the soup stock, arguably the most important component as in many asian soup noodle dishes, to be on the insipid side. In fact, I barely discerned the usual components like star anise, clove, charred onion and ginger especially to be present, much less a strong beef stock in the first place. The beef in the soup noodles was good though, as I find most beef in New Zealand. Though the Hanoi or nothern style is usually served as is, the usual southern style or Saigon version accompaniments were a bit lacking, just bean sprouts and cilantro and a lemon wedge (I prefer lime but no matter), no mint leaves or SE asian basil or other leafy greens that night. I wished I could have had a cold ba ba ba or any other beer with the soup and fried spring rolls (just average) we ordered but i guess it must be a byo place as no beer/wine is served. The Mekong Cafe is a hole-in-the-wall place that chowhounds seek out, I just wished it had delivered. Will try some other dishes next time. Maybe the other dishes will be better.

Any other Pho places in Wellington or New Zealand I should check out? In fact, is the greater population of Vietnamese to be found in Auckland?

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  1. Hey

    A fellow Welly chowhound!! There's viet place, not sure of name in Newtown, corner of Riddiford and Rintol. I've only had the "special spicy soup beef". It was tasty and huge portion for $8/9 but it also suffered from quite a westernised stock. Gravy was the first taste to pop into my mind rather than that clean SE Asian taste. Lemon, bean sprouts and mint on the side, although there was rha ram (is that how you spell it?!) in the soup itself. That seems a pretty common side plate here though I think. Beef was great, but like u say, isn't it always here.

    What places do you like eating in Welly? I only just got here and up for some budget / mid range recommendations. Cheers.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tobyglynn

      heya! we've only been here since january, so still wandering around and trying places and although it is not a budget/mid place, i took the SO to Logan Brown for birthday dinner and had a very nice meal w/the usual great NZ wines. I think lunch at the Bistro Breton up on upland rd. upper kelburn, is fantastic and price is right for true quality french breton cuisine. i had a nice spicy noodle soup @ the supreme cafe on cuba st. i think the dish is called supreme cafe noodles. the other dishes were ok. but the soup was good and cheap. i love the fish and chips @ Maclean Fish Supply in Paraparaumu but the wellington fish supply (?) on cuba st. is great too. i should bring out my notes but this what i can think of for now. good hunting mate!

      1. re: PakaloloDreams

        cool, thanks for that. I'll have to check some of those places out. If i come across anything chow worthy i'll give you a holla :)

        keep me posted on your finds.

        ps - if you into sushi and u can be bothered queing for literally 15 minutes at lunchtime then midland sushi on lambton quay is really good if u not already been.

        1. re: PakaloloDreams

          Had terrible meal at Breton. Great room but the food seemed to come out of a packet. But thanks for Pho info.

          1. re: duckpress

            I'm sorry but we must have gone to different bistros. In no way one could describe the food @ Bistro Breton as coming from a packet. That could be ascribed to many of the dives on Cuba, or the fast food chains here in the city, but not Bistro Breton. You may have not *liked* the chef's sauces or preparations, tha'ts ok, but really, saying it tasted like it came from packets is a bit much for a classic bistro whose owner/chef came here straight from Brittany where he and his wellington-born wife owned and ran a restaurant for many years. I had two lunches there, including one with the classic steak frites and came away happy. The dinner with the terakihi filets was okay but not stellar. So i wrote about my delight with the lunches and not the dinner, but plan on going back for another dinner since it's in the neighborhood. I totally agree the interior design is very pretty and during fine weather the al fresco area is also nice.

      2. Just had a bowl of Pho at the Gallery Deli Restaurant at 101 The Terrace. The place is filled with original contemporary asian artwork, handsome interior with stylish carved wooden tables and very comfy padded chairs. There is an al fresco area up front with a view of the street below. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can even get a bowl of Pho for breakfast, as is the custom in Vietnam. The servers and wait staff were polite and attentive but then we were the first customers for an early dinner.

        The soup stock was rich with beef flavor with tiny tiny beads of fat floating on top, though not strong in the spice department, ie, star anise, clove, chili peppers. but still at least was rich in beef flavor and charred onion. The pho was served with a thicker wider cut of rice noodles than I'm used to, but they had a nice tooth to them. There was plenty of sliced beef in the soup. As garnish, we were served a plate of bean sprouts, sliced onion, mint leaves, sliced chili peppers and two wedges of lemon. A small dipping plate was filled with sriracha sauce and hoisin sauce. I added a good amount of the garnishes, especially the mint and chili peppers, and liberally dipped the good beef in the sriracha sauce. My SO had a cab/merlot with her bowl and I had a cold Henieken. Very satisfying meal, and fairly filling. A bowl of pho at dinner time is $11.50NZ. So the Gallery Deli is a little more expensive than what I've found in the cuba/courtney area but it's also a nicer place with better pho. At the sametime, I'm not saying that this is what you'd eat in saigon, hue or hanoi either. A weak hand with the spices. But I'll go back when i again get a hankering for pho.

        7 Replies
        1. re: PakaloloDreams

          If you want pho in Auckland, let me know. There are 2 or 3 fantastic places.

          All authentic and not changed for European tastes.

          1. re: lohsing

            hey lohsing! i'm not sure when i'll be back up auckland way (i have a trip to hamilton and taupo end of month), but please post your favorite pho joints with a brief description and address. i'd appreciate it and i'm sure the other 'hounds will too! thanks.

            1. re: PakaloloDreams

              Hi there... Ok, I'll give it a go.

              The most "restaurant" type of place of the places I had in mind is "Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant." ... It's located at 450 Karangahape Road in Auckland, so it's quite central. Very fond memories of the place from going with mum and dad.

              The other restaurant (and my personal favourite) which we go to weekly is Vietnam Gourmet. It's located at 38 East Tamaki Road, Papatoetoe (09 278 7286). VERY authentic, cheap and cheerful.

              My parents were born in Vietnam and consider this to be as close to authentic as possible.


              1. re: lohsing

                Thanks so much. I can't wait to try both places, heh. I love pho and other noodle soups. I wonder if you would point out some of your fav chinese or other asian restaurants or street shops also. hope i'm not a bother, thanks.

                1. re: PakaloloDreams

                  Best Hong Kong BBQ is a place in Auckland called No. 1 BBQ King... it's on a side street joining Customs Street to Fort Street in the Central CBD. Cheap meals... $8 - $10 for duck, roast pork, bbq pork, soy chicken etc... on rice, noodles etc.

                  Yum char... well, there is Sunshine, Grand Harbour and China are the best places in the CBD in Auckland. All within a couple minutes of each other.

                  That should keep you occupied for a bit! All places are listed in the Whitepages.

                  1. re: lohsing

                    thanks so much! we will def check out the places. i can't wait, will let u know how it goes. again, thanks a bunch.

          2. re: PakaloloDreams

            An interesting update about the Gallery Deli: I recently met some Vietnamese govt. bureaucrats here in Wellington learning english. Fun guys, earnest, etc., who came to one of our endless parties here at Chevening House. anyway, we got to talking about chow and wound our way to Wellington Vietnamese restaurants and lo and behold, the Gallery Deli came up. Of course they ate there, they said, and there is a branch back in the motherland! well well well.....