We've always overlooked this spot in favour of Pho Pasteur next door, which is a bit silly. The two restaurants have same-same-but-different menus, each have a place in our hearts and stomachs. Pho Gia Hoi has plenty of street cred with outlets in the Vietnamese enclaves of Canley-Vale and Bankstown. The joint pulls a decent crowd at all hours of the day.
We were stoked to find a favourite that we haven't found in the city: a big bowl of Chinese style noodle soup with some crispy fried chicken or a pork chop served on the side (we hit Pho Pasteur next door if we feel like the same dish but with a Vietnamese pho flavoured soup). And were were extra buzzed to discover a new favourite, banh canh cua chao tom...
Shawn's favourite dish here is Banh canh cua chao tom - "Minced prawn and rice tapioca noodles in rich crabmeat soup" - $11. Prawn flavoured fishcakes and little bits of crab and wisps of scrambled egg. The soup has nice strong chicken flavous. It's thick and oily at the start, it was a shock at first, but the soup thins out as you eat it. Halfway through the bowl the magic noodle soup moment occurs, the moment when all the flavours meld and the planets align, it was love at 20th bite. The thick clear udon style noodles are excellent flavour soakers and go perfectly with this soup. We've tried the prawn and the pork version, the prawnie fishcakes are worth paying the extra dollar for we reckon.
Bun Bo Hue - spicy beef soup with innards - $10. A Vietnamese classic.
Grilled chicken with egg (or rice) noodle in soup (or dry) - $10. Grilled chook with classic Vietnamese sweet/salty/peppery flavours and sweet/fish saucy dip. It comes with a huge bowl of good, simple Chinese style soup, this is one of the best re-hydrating soups in town. The egg noodles are well cooked with a nice bite to them. Birdy num nums.
Crispy skin chicken with egg noodle soup - $10. Another big bowl of clear Chinese soup with egg noodles. We guess the chicken is poached or roasted then quickly shallow fried to get that lovely crispy skin, and keeping the flesh nice and moist.
Beef cubes with tomato rice - $10. We were expecting succulent grilled marinated beef, like we've had at Saigon Pho and other joints. Instead it was braised beef cubes in a sweet sauce that tasted of hoi sin and salt. Meh.
Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio - Grilled pork and spring rolls with rice vermicelli - $10. One of our penultimate favourite dishes - the fresh veggies and plain noodles mix perfectly with the pork and spring rolls.
Pho Gia Hoi is at 711 George Street, Haymarket. Phone 9211 0221.