To cure what ails: Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Soup is great to cure a lot of things. I’ve been having a lot of it lately. The Vietnamese are smart people… they recognise the power that a good soup can have, when extrapolated to it’s natural conclusion, the meal in a bowl.

For a while now I’ve been appreciating the comfort that a steaming bowl of ph? can deliver. The combination of thin slices of beef, mint, chilli, bean shoots, rice noodles… all mingling together in a well crafted stock, creating an experience that totals more than the sum of it’s parts.

Along the same lines then, I present to you “Hu Tieu Bo Kho”. Hu Tieu is a type of rice noodle, Bo means beef, and kho literally means braised, but more specifically refers to a style of thicker soup in which meats are cooked. So what you get when you put them all together is a lovely rich soup full of chunks of tender beef (brisket or chuck seem to be popular), with carrots, bean sprouts, and some of the other typical pho accompaniments. The soup is flavoured with star anise, lemongrass, and five spice, and seems to vary in consistency and intensity amongst my beloved top end of William Street ‘Little Vietnam’ area restaurants.

I could eat this every day of the week… such is the simple joy it brings.

You can find this one here:

Vinh Hong Restaurant
2/399 William Street
Phone: (08) 9227 1899

22 thoughts on “To cure what ails: Hu Tieu Bo Kho”

  1. hey there Matt. Was buying some coffee at Fiori today and Kam mentioned your story about this. Talk about the power of suggestion. I’m writing this after a feast of Vietnamese soup. That should get me through this evening’s rehearsal. See you at the Mundaring truffle festival?

  2. Hey Ash, my one regret about my last trip to Melbs was not getting to any Vietnamese restaurants, despite driving up and down Victoria Rd a few times, as well as visiting Footscray… Next time I’ll make sure to branch out a little more.

    Alex: Glad I could sow the seeds for a rewarding meal… Every time I think about this dish I feel like having it… I will indeed be at the truffle fest this weekend… Pig in tow. See you there :)

  3. can only try mate.

    you gotta leave stuff for next time. a mate of mine’s vietnamese and was telling me how each of the three viet precincts are a little diff (real deal, urban neo viet/westernised, chinese viet)…

  4. Pho! I love it. I ate it pretty much every day in Vietnam and didn’t get sick of it. It’s the perfect meal. In Vietnam they serve it with fried bread at the end to sop up the leftover soup… mmmmn.

  5. Shoot, Kate stole my comment. Although I will add, to show off, that we went to Pho 2000 in Ho Chi Minh where Bill Clinton went. They have a pic of him there and everything.

    I have been craving some good pho all year; have tried attempts at every food court in town. That pic makes me hungry and Vinh Hong sounds like just what I need to suggest for Date Night tomorrow.

    Thanks :-D

  6. hmmm our bellies think alike … have been having weekly doses of pho on victoria st lately. and making soup at home in my new pot. i love how a good soup requires patience, and then you are rewarded with something so much mor than the sum of its parts.

  7. Love viet soups. I thought hu tieu referred to a soup with noodles. Shows how wrong one can be. My cafes must have been misleading me.

  8. Ohhh that looks so good – I think I may have to have a lunch out-of-office soon.

    And as for truffles – I have a mother-in-laws-birthday this weekend so my truffle adventure will have to be vicarious.


  9. Thanks for the comments guys…

    Sunili: There is a restaurant in Melbourne called Mekong that has a sign saying Bill Clinton ate two bowls of pho… of course he’s never had it from Mekong…but that doesn’t seem to bother them much :)

    Thanks for stopping by Poonam… I can just imagine how good your kitchen would smell after making this at home… :)

    Alex: Thanks for inspiring me to have pho yet again today for lunch… We’re doing suggestive tag team it seems :) Love that photo of yours.

    Oli: You can take me to the best ones when I come back to Melbourne then :)

    Jo: Please don’t go on my dodgy Babelfish / Wikipedia translation of Vietnamese… Though I did ask the lady in the restaurant to explain what each part meant, and that was what I came to… but then I have heard Hu Tieu used to just refer to noodle soup as well… As long as you enjoy it, then it’s all good :)

    Grendel: Out of office lunches are a must… nothing drains the fun of eating much more than sitting at your desk watching work emails arrive. If I can snag a truffle for my tucker bag you will live vicariously no longer…

  10. you should try Tra Vinh on Brisbane Street. and another great asian haunt is Big Bowl on William Street, try the XO noodles. it will rock your undies off.

  11. Thanks Aurelia,

    I’ve tried Tra Vinh as well, and I like it too… though the Hu Tieu Bo Kho there is quite different to Vinh Hongs… I’m not sure if it’s better or worse, but I think I like Vinh Hongs more… Also quite familiar with Big Bowl… did a post on them a while back now… My normal order is a big bowl (!) of pork dumplings with noodles… tasty stuff. Not sure anyone wants my undies off in a restaurant though :)

  12. Speaking of truffles …………………… treated ourselves to 100g. Two bottles of truffle oil now in pantry, and the big truffle dinner is happening tomorrow night!

    PS. I too love Vietnamese soups. Mmmm…….

  13. Hey hey-
    Pho is the ultimate comfort food I reckon, pretty much on par with chicken noodle soup.

    Went to Cantina the other day and for some reason thought of you when I saw the bags of Fiori coffee. Hmm.

  14. Hey Matt,

    Nice post on viet soups! You are right about the translations even though you looked them up :) My favourite food in the world is pho and no one makes it better than my mum :D She does a pretty good Hu Tieu Bo Kho too.

    I also also had pho in Melbourne and I have to say theirs is better than here in Perth.

  15. Hey Jean: I reckon they often kick the chicken noodle soups arse… how can you compete with mint and chilli and lemon juice… all swimming in a lovely stock… Thanks for your virtual thoughts… might explain the chill down my spine last week :) Which also reminds me to drop into Fiori soon.

    Hey Nga, Glad you finally popped up on the radar to give some Vietnamese experience… If only to gloat that your mum’s is the best… to which of course I ask… Where is my invitation to dinner then ?? It seems like I’m only meeting people to get to their mothers these days… could be worrying.

  16. You haven’t tried my MIL’s chicken noodle soup that’s why ;). I guess being from a similar culture, anything that doesn’t involve chillies are a welcomed treat when it comes to fighting colds.

    I really should start exploring cafes again.

  17. Yo Ph?rry Man – Love my beef ball noodle shooop even after having it everyday in Ho Chi Minh (sometimes even for breakfast)! Although that pic looks heaps yummier than any I had over there. Sorry my mum doesn’t cook this … or maybe I’m just saying that so you don’t invite yourself over =P At Cambridge Forum Food Court, the Malaysian Hawker stall has a dish called Ho Fun in egg sauce…. I’d pick that any day over any noodle soup.

  18. Hey there Mattster! Just been trying out a new place in Northbridge called Phong Vinh. (Unit 3/323 William St, near corner of Newcastle St). Have put them through the Pho test which they passed with flying colours. Also, for the more adventurous, their Oxtail soup with egg noodles was amazing. Another soup with goats meat was also wildly delicious. They’ve only been open a few weeks but I’d rate them as highly as any I’ve tried in Northbridge before. Haven’t tried the Hù Tiêu Bò Kho yet. Might do that tomorrow…. :)

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