Have you ever been fooled by a photo, in particularly a food photo that is? Sadly..... I have.
While scrolling on Instagram a few weeks ago, I came across a "delicious" looking photo of a bowl of Phở from Saigon Express by @charistigerlily. It was so "deliciously" looking, that I decided to make a trip to Subiaco Markets one weekend to try it out.
Upon arriving at Subi Markets, I quickly located Saigon Express and with much anticipation and excitement, I ordered a bowl of Phở and waited patiently for it....
|This was around midday on a Sunday and the place doesn't seem to be that busy...|
About 10-15 minutes later, the bowl of Phở arrived and my heart instantly................. SANK! The bowl of Phở in front of me was nothing like what I have seen on Instagram!!!
|The bowl on the left is from @charistigerlily & the one on the right was my bowl of Phở - what a difference that is!|
I was quite disappointed that my bowl of Phở looking nothing like the one from @charistigerlily, nor does it come with side plate of herbs and sauce. I can see a bit of the sauce and a slice of lemon and some sprinkle of coriander were already thrown into the bowl.
When I enquired as to where the other herbs such as mint, Thai basils and culantro? I was being rudely snapped at and told by one of the shop's staff..."that is all they got".
I find that is hard to believe, considering that Saigon Express is situated within Subiaco Markets with plenty of Vietnamese Fruits & Vegetables stalls, that stock those kinds of herbs and to answer rudely that they don't have any is a load of nonsense to me.
Phở, if you don't already know, originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam. Phở is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with slim cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations feature tendon, tripe, or meatballs in southern Vietnam. Chicken pho is made using the same spices as beef, but the broth is made using only chicken bones and meat, as well as some internal organs of the chicken, such as the heart, the undeveloped eggs and the gizzard.
With the partition of Vietnam in 1954, over a million people fled North Vietnam for the South. Pho, previously unpopular in the South, suddenly took off. No longer confined to northern culinary traditions, variations in meat and broth appeared, and additional garnishes, such as lime, bean sprouts, culantro (ngò gai), cinnamon basil (húng quế), and Hoisin sauce (tương đen), became standard fare. Phở tái also began to rival fully cooked phở chín in popularity (Source: wikepedia.com)
Typical garnishes for phở Sài Gòn are onions, chili peppers, culantro, lime, bean sprouts, and Thai basil.
|Photo courtesy of Cooking on the Side|
There are only a few places in Perth that actually served you those kinds of herbs with your Phở (as shown in the photo above) and they are either U&I Cafe in Northbridge or Caddy's Lunch Bar in Perth West End, just to name a few.
|My very bland and sad looking bowl of Phở|
The verdict: Even at $10.00 this bowl of Phở isn't worth the money you pay for. Better save it for a nice bowl of Phở elsewhere of your choice and preference. Not only did my bowl of Phở looking bland and sad, the rice noodle were also uncooked, I took 3 bites of it just to make sure, but really it’s not worth it.
Saigon Express is definitely not a place worthy enough for me to come back to again.