There are plenty of reasons to head down to West End and check out Quan Thanh. The reason for me swinging this way is the selection of soups. In particular, I go just for the pho soup, better known as the best hangover cure. This soup has caused my bearded mate to go on an eating tour of Vietnam in search for the worlds best pho. Coincidentally, when comparing the soups of his travels, his mind keeps ticking back to Quan Thanh as one of the best soup experiences. If that's not a well-researched recommendation, I don't know what is!
To fill you in, 'pho' is a beef soup consisting of several cuts of beef to produce the clean, clear, aromatic broth. The soup comes neutral in heat so you can tailer it to your craving of hotness, sourness, fresh herbs and rich hoi sin.
So on this amazing sunny day, I decided to sit on the kerbside deck of Quan Thanh. A word of warning, if you also like the deck seating, keep your guard up as the locals will try to steal your food... and by locals, I mean the flock of magpies. Inside tables are also available if the pesky birds are a bother to you.
The service is very hit and miss. A tip is to know what you want to eat and don't dilly-dally when ordering. Remember you are not here for the service, you are here for the food. There are two menu options available to suit different tastes. The first is Vietnamese food and the second is Chinese (the more stock standard and all round safer option). But it's all Vietnamese for this tummy! If you're a bit of a risk taker and enjoy trying new food, option 1 is for you.
The steamed dim-sims are a must, and in the afternoon you can see the family roll them, hell yeah! Doesn't get more authentic than that!
If you're brave and open to unique flavours, the fried prawn cake with infused vinegar comes highly recommended. It's like a savoury muffin topped with a crispy whole prawn and baked with a pork mince ball and lentil filling.
To fill the hunger, I skip past the vermicelli salads and grilled pork chop and rice. Although nice, they are light meals and if you came for a feed you need to pick your menu options right. Instead, go for the spicy pork and beef noodle soup, filled with soft poached beef brisket and pork neck with a thin layer of fried chilli oil sitting on top. Or alternatively, if you love pho as much as my bearded mate, go for his much loved favourite - sliced beef pho with rice noodles. The soups are fantastic and feature real, rich, deep flavour. But do be weary, in the past they have been known to be a little up and down.
In the tasty beverage section you have two options, the bottle shop three meters to your left (a personal favourite), or the home made lemon ice tea, which proves to be a sweet, sharp and refreshing drink.
To me this place has that 'first car feel'. It's not perfect, but always does the job and always leaves that appreciation and satisfaction that you keep going back to. Although the service isn't always amazing, the food will fill the void. And hey, if you love pho, Quan Thanh is the place to go.