in between chapters and TBC

It has been over a month since my last post but a lot seems to have happened since then.

One of the biggest life milestone was finishing up at the job I had been in since I graduated from university.  Though I knew it was time to let go, it did not make the parting any less emotional.  There were many tears before and after the official announcement and on my last day, the waterworks hit even before I got up to say my final farewells.

It is still slightly surreal, probably because I have not started my new job yet but I’m sure once I’m back in an office space again it will hit me afresh.

What I realised was that at the core of it, it was the people, it was the relationships that I was finding hard to let go of.  I know it is not like I’m not going to be friends with my now ex-colleagues but it is more that the relationship dynamics have shifted, we won’t see each other every weekday anymore nor share in some of the in-jokes that used to fly across the partitions.  It is that ending that I still mourn quietly in the heart.

But as one wise man once said:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.*

And now it is time for a new chapter, a new beginning.  The old is gone, the new has come (almost).  Trying to squeeze in the last few tasks on my to-do list before I settle back into the rhythms of full-time employment.

Continue reading “in between chapters and TBC”

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.