Pho is one of the great dishes of the world and in Adelaide you’d be hard pressed to find a better bowl than at Pho Ba Ria 2.
There are few international cuisines that have been embraced in Australia with as much gusto as Vietnamese. Sure, it took some time for Australians not of Vietnamese origin to venture into suburbs such as Cabramatta in Sydney and Woodville Gardens to sample banh mi and pho, but now those two foods are ubiquitous throughout Australia with banh mi the go-to sandwich for office and construction workers.
Consumed from breakfast onwards in Vietnam, pho is also a lunch (and dinnertime) favourite in Australia. The Vietnamese soup of beef broth, rice noodles, meat (usually beef) and fresh herbs is considered the national dish of Vietnam and has spread to be a favourite across the world. One of the best local bowls of beef noodle soup is found at Hanson Road’s Pho Ba Ria 2, which this month celebrates 10 years in the hands of the Phan family. Over that time, they have turned the Hanson Road eatery into a go-to destination for anyone wanting a bowl of steaming hot pho or other Vietnamese staples such as broken rice or crispy quail.
Owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Hung Phan and Hien Tran with their children Sandra and Eric also helping out, Sandra says her parents had no experience of running a business when they took over Pho Ba Ria 2 a decade ago.
“Mum just liked to cook at home, that’s her hobby, and my parents just started fresh without any experience running a business,” Sandra says of her parents who arrived in Australia from southern Vietnam in the 90s.
“My uncle was a refugee and eventually my dad came over with him as well, it was about 1994 when Dad came over,” Sandra says. “After a few years he came back and married Mum and I think Mum came in 1995. We [the children] were born here.”
In Vietnam, there are two distinct regional styles of pho: the northern style (where it originated), which has a clean and simple broth and the more full-bodied and sweeter southern style, which is the version you’ll find at Pho Ba Ria 2.
Sandra says her mother has changed the pho recipe over time.
“I’m pretty sure she has kept parts of the old recipe but she added her own experience of making pho with feedback from customers, ‘Oh, it’s too salty today.’ ‘Oh, you should try adding this ingredient to it.’ Then, it gets to the point where you finally nail what is good. To be honest, if customers complain these days, we’ll take it in consideration but if we don’t get too many comments, we won’t change it. We’ve kept it stable for the last couple of years with our recipes. I think the first two or three years was trial and error but now it’s stable and we won’t change it.”
Pho Ba Ria 2 is one of a number of restaurants that makes the trip to the western suburbs a regular journey for those looking for quality Vietnamese. Others include Q-Viet, Mai Kitchen, Khang’s Noodles, Vietnam Restaurant on Pennington Road and Pho Hong Tam, but Pho Ba Ria 2 remains the place to go for a great bowl of soup.
And for those wondering, there is a Pho Ba Ria 1, called simply Ba Ria in Parafield Gardens.
“What I know is that the two owners that initially started this place were sisters: [there was] Ba Ria and Ba Ria 2 and they sold it,” Sandra says.
Whatever the origin story, all that matters are the great bowls of soup that Pho Ba Ria 2 serves up to its loyal customers day after day and night after night.
Pho Ba Ria 2
54 Hanson Road, Woodville Gardens