Taste not lost in translation

Story and photo by Vivienne Pearson

How do you pronounce pho – ‘fo’ or ‘fur’? 

Paul Nguyen, owner of so-new-it’s-not-quite-open-yet Vietnamese restaurant, Bay Pho, pronounces it more like ‘fa’ but is clear that he doesn’t mind which way you say it. 

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish, described by Paul as a beef-stock noodle soup. Bay Pho will offer a number of variations, but the key to all according to Paul is the specific mix of herbs and spices along with cooking time. ‘Some people try to cook pho in two to three hours,’ explains Paul. This sounds like a long time so I start to wonder if I have missed something in our conversation, but no. ‘You need about six to eight hours to get the full flavour,’ he says.

Paul has recently returned to Byron from Sydney but is not new to hospitality in town. His father, Huong, ran Lemongrass Thai and, prior to that, the two worked together on other restaurants in Byron, including Bus Stop Café and Byron Viet. 

‘They have always been a mix of Thai and Vietnamese, but this time it’s full Vietnamese,’ says Paul. In addition to pho and other delicious noodle and soup dishes, Bay Pho will offer a big range of Bahn Mi, Vietnamese salad rolls. 

This option, which is ideal for breakfast, lunch, and a healthy snack, draws on Huong’s past career as a baker, following his arrival in Australia as a refugee in the late 1970s. 

Dessert options include sticky rice and Vietnamese iced coffee. Drinks will include Vietnamese beer, sugarcane juice, and a traditional Vietnamese salty lemonade. Paul is not completely sure how best to describe the latter – he’s still working on the ideal translations of many of the dishes in planning – but it sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a flavoursome dish of pho. 

Bay Pho, opening 12 December, 7 days, 8am – evening. 6680 9223
Facebook: @phointhebay

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