much room for improvement – Pho Chu The, Box Hill

I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write this particular review because frankly, no one likes to be told that they’ve missed the mark, right?  But at the same time, if you don’t say anything, how will they know to improve?

So, it’s with a bit of reluctance that I share my first experience at the new Viet place in Box Hill, Pho Chu The.

all photos taken on Samsung Galaxy SII

With my mum’s workplace located in Box Hill, we often lunch there and are quite familiar with the food options available in the area.  So when the news spread like wildfire (as it does in an office setting – an email does the trick) that a new player was in town, it was inevitable that my parents and I would find ourselves outside Pho Chu The on their opening day.  There are two views when it comes to visiting a new restaurant – They should either have their best game face on to make a good first impression on opening day OR they haven’t yet got a chance to try things out properly so you should give them a bit more time to settle in.  For Pho Chu The, it came out the second way.

There was a bit of a wait as we came at the peak lunch hour, but once tables were cleared we found a spot in the front corner.  Taking over from the Old Tea House Restaurant, the ceiling was high with lots of natural light filling the space.  Medium-sized LCD TV screens were installed though not functioning when we were there for lunch.  However, I imagine there’ll be Asian dramas or TV shows showing in the future ;).  Tables were finished with different scenes from the Vietnamese landscape which I thought was a nice touch.

As is the trend with the new generation of Asian restaurants, you write up your own order and when you are done, you just press the pager and a staff member comes to collect it.  I guess it’s efficient and given that Asian restaurants aren’t known for their great customer service, it probably helps that bit along too.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the positives end.  Being at a Vietnamese church for 22 years that had monthly potluck with food after the service every other week, we’ve become quite critical when it comes to authentic Vietnamese food.   We started off with a serving of Cha Gio (tom) – Prawn Spring Rolls ($8.50) which weren’t hot enough.  It made me think that they had been deep-fried a while ago and they just reheated them before putting it on the plate.  Though definitely ‘prawny’, it just wasn’t good enough by our standards.

Clockwise: 1. Phở Dac Biet ($10.00), 2. Sliced Beef and Brisket ($9.00), 3. Chicken and Beef Combination ($10.00), 4. Condiments

Sadly, the phở didn’t measure up either.  The phở wasn’t hot enough, and the broth in general didn’t have a strong flavour = it hadn’t been cooked for long enough.  While there for lunch, my dad saw a friend who works as a butcher and went over and asked what he thought of the food.  He said that their meat wasn’t very good quality and was probably from an ‘older cow’ as opposed to a ‘younger cow’ that is more tender (lol, it sounds much less blunt in Viet I swear!).  I liked the onion condiments though – probably the only thing I remembered about the meal.

I know the staff were still finding their feet but it doesn’t look really good when you need to make a request (after the phở had arrived) for the plate of bean sprouts and mint that generally accompany the phở.  And what is this??

How is one supposed to squeeze the juice out of this?? lol, I was just dumbfounded.

Parents weren’t impressed with their drinks either.  The new owners have made use of the bubble tea machines left behind by the last tenants so there is a huge drink menu on offer. I got a Taro milk green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) which was alright I guess.  Dad should have stuck to what he knew instead of trying the Mango green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) since he just wasn’t used to it and didn’t like the flavour.  Mum chose something that was familiar but didn’t get what she was after…  Instead of coconut milk, they used coconut cream for the  Three Colour drink ($3.50) which produced a really weird result:

The cream didn’t mix well with the other parts of the drink and I think they forgot to add the sugar syrup as it was very bland  = mostly left untouched in the glass :(.

We really wanted to like Pho Chu The, given the reputations of the Footscray and Richmond stores of the same name.  However, there’s much room for improvement.

The staff seemed a bit flustered, not really knowing the ropes yet and getting orders confused but I think (and hope) that with a bit of time, things will pick up here.

We did find them a bit pricey for the quality of food that was produced but 20% off the bill (for the first 2 opening weeks – from 19th September) made it a bit more bearable.

*sigh* It’s not nice writing a bad review but I must stress that this was their opening day!  They were open from 9am that morning so perhaps with the lack of experience, the quality had dropped over the few hours… My dad has said that he won’t go back unless there is an improvement so I hope that when we revisit, they’ll have ironed out the creases and I’ll be able to report back with more favourable comments.  Hope you can visit and make your own assessments.

Pho Chu The

936 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill VIC 3128

Tel: (03) 9890 1688

Trading from: 9am – 10pm (as per advert)

Pho Chu The on Urbanspoon

Question: Do you think you should visit on a restaurant’s opening day or is it wiser to give them a bit more time before visiting?

♥ Ames

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Royal Melbourne Show giveaway!  One more night before the winner is announced :). Edit 24 Sept: Giveaway has ended now.

31 thoughts on “much room for improvement – Pho Chu The, Box Hill

  1. Wow… just reading the review and the photos makes me NOT want to there at all.

    1. The onions for the pho?! sliced a bit thick dont you think!!!
    2. And coconut cream for the three coloured drink? :S

    I’m also very critical when it comes to Vietnamese food >_<

    1. Now that you pointed it out, I guess the onions were a bit on the thick side… at the time, the flavour of it was what stood out as a positive for me.

      I think we’re a bit spoilt for choice when it comes to Vietnamese food in Melb so it does turn us into critical customers I think :S

  2. lol, I used to go to Pho 888 on Station St or Indochine for my Pho fix when in Box Hill, haha always room for Chu The!

    1. Thanks for the validation CCU, it does kinda suck to write something that could potentially lose a place a few customers but I do hope that they will improve as a result and be better for them in the long run :S.

  3. I love Chu The at Footscray and was excited when I read that they were opening one up in Box Hill (from your tweets!) but man, I was WTF-ing the entire time I was reading this.

    The pho here looks nothing like the ones they serve at the Footscray restaurant which, although isn’t as nice and modern as the Box Hill one, has a lot more character (referring to both the restaurant and the pho). I hope they do lift their game or they will tarnish the otherwise good reputation that the Footscray restaurant has.

    1. Ah, my phone quality photos probably don’t help their case at all! I just can’t understand how they could have got it so wrong… surely, there should be certain standards met when opening up a franchise restaurant…?? *sigh*

  4. Oh damn! I was hoping that this place was good, because I go to Box Hill quite a lot too~ And was excited that a new place had opened up but a shame that it wasn’t up to your expectations especially the weird tasting 3 colour drink :(

  5. I went to Pho Chu The (in Richmond) my first time in Melbourne. IT WAS REALLY GOOD. Surely not the same owners? Or at least not the same cooks?

    Just go back to Richmond! :D

    1. I had a look at the Pho Chu The (Richmond) website and they do have franchising opportunities so perhaps this is a venture that didn’t come out the right way? Will def go back to Richmond (or Springvale for that matter) when it comes to my pho fix ;).

  6. This is an honest review and I am sure they will appreciate it. I would maybe give them another chance in a couple of months to see if they improved.

    When I was S.California, a new Indian restaurant opened in my city. They ran the restaurant for two months before they had their official ‘grand opening’ where the dinner was on them. Needless to say, it is the BEST Indian restaurant I have visited in US, and I have been to a LOT of them.

    1. Wow, if I visit the US you must give me the name of that restaurant! Will def be paying them a visit – what a good marketing strategy for them!

  7. at least you received your plate of bean sprouts! we also ordered an ice blend and literally received a blending of ice with no flavour. =(

    1. We did have to ask them for the bean sprouts though – surely that’s a basic step in service for a Viet place! Gah, they really need to pick up their game!

    1. Awww that’s no good, Jenny :(

      Melbourne has too many restaurants in general so I think if one doesn’t produce an adequate quality of food, it will be difficult to survive in the market. Hope these guys take the hint and wow guests in the future ;).

  8. *jaw drops* feel very angry really this post

    I hope they pick up their game. Coz me and the mr loves pho. Normally our heart belongs to pho 888 but i want this to be their fierce competition!

    1. Yeah, it’s pretty disappointing. My mum went again today with her colleagues and tried a few other dishes… still no winners yet :(

  9. You shod revisit them now. I took the chance and was rather impressed! Everything was perfect; the entrees, service, three color..etc. i tried the special beef and three color. The set of vegetables were brought out as soon as the order was given to the waiter and the three color was the best i have ever tasted (they probably have a new recipe now) Perhaps it was because it was new that the service was poor in the beginning but i highly guarantee another visit will change your mind about pho chu the boxhill and as for others you should give the restaurant a try before you decide whether you like the restaurant or not :)

Comments are like waking up to sunshine... positively lovely :). You know what to do!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s