Pho Viet

It was one of those days again, I manage to drag myself into the urban jungle of Auckland in search for a soup noodle during a cold-ish, wet spring. Actually, I had a craving for my favourite Vietnamese food – the beef noodle soup. I believe they call this the Pho Bo Tai (as per the menu). $11 I get a pretty decent-sized bowl of noodles. It’s refreshing and tasty. My partner-in-crime says otherwise, the meat may not be fresh but I can’t tell. The other items on Pho Viet are not so appealing, so if there are experts for this place, let me know. I am generally happy the Vietnamese cuisine has a lot more options now in the CBD. The Banh Mi is still relatively expensive here in Auckland. Not sure how the Ozzies manage to keep the prices down for this particular dish.

Pho Viet is reasonably priced and as I mentioned, I only buy the beef noodle soup. The environment is within a food court so expect lots of students and young people around the area. You might spot an oldie like me around too.


Pho Bo Tai

Cafe Hanoi

This is an old post but may have changed. They have a website:

Tried some of the dishes, samples below:

Beef Broth “Pho” ($10.50)

Summer Rolls ($12.50).

Crispy Shrimp ($14.00).

Unfortunately not my type of food, the portions were small (very tapas-style) and flavour-wise – I think Saigonz is better just down the road. My rating is 5/10. Food was sample approximately 5 months ago, so things may have changed…. for the better ūüôā

Two Monkeys Vietnamese Restaurant

I am back, for the moment. I have been around but just didn’t have time to post any reviews. Anyway here’s a quick one.

This is for Two Monkey’s Vietnamese Restaurant located on Dominion Road (easily noticeable), near all the fast food place i.e. Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Burger Fuel etc. First impression, the place does look somewhat authentic. Once you get in and see the menu (and hear the staff talk), it’s not really a Vietnamese restaurant. Although it does try to be. Perhaps, the boss or someone is. Who knows.

The first thing you don’t see is the lemon grass dishes, and it has random Chinese favourites in there! For this occassion, ordered the Beef Pho and Roasted Chicken on Rice (I thought this was lemon grass). Both are $9 which is cheap and I had the meal around 4pm.

Two Monkeys Vietnamese Restaurant - Beef Pho

Beef Pho.

Two Monkeys Vietnamese Restaurant - Lemon Grass Chicken on Rice

Roasted Chicken on Rice.

Surprisingly, the rice dish was not bad. The Beef Pho was very average. The chilli they put on each table looked a bit dodgy and wouldn’t recommend to try.¬† Overall, not very Vietnamese at all. The price is reasonable and they seem to feed anyone at anytime which is good. Customer service is also OK. If you’re hungry at 3.30pm on a Sunday, this place is your best shot other than the fast food places.

My rating 5/10. It’s not horrible, but won’t recommend for authentic Vietnamese food.


Finally, another decent Vietnamese restaurant in town. Saigonz is apparently a new Vietnamese restaurant on Beach Road. It’s quite near Foodtown, but parking is difficult to find like any place in the city. I think the place caters for the nearby businesses and residents. Just by initially looking at the place, which is small with only a few tables and with their dishes served in plastic bowls. Their menu is small, which makes decision making somewhat easier. They¬†have a website, and¬†¬†even an 0800 number (0800 SAIGONZ).

Anyway, the dishes sampled are shown below:

Saigonz - Beef Pho 

Beef Pho.

Saigonz - Lemon Grass Chicken Rice 

Lemon Grass Chicken on Rice.

Saigonz - Lemon Grass Chicken Curry 

Lemon Grass Chicken Curry.

Saigonz - Pork & Prawn Summer Rolls 

Pork and Prawn Summer Rolls.

¬†All of the above dishes¬†cost $9.50, except the rolls, which cost $7.00.¬† I have to admit, all the dishes tasted great! The only niggle is the plastic dishes they were served in. A bit too takeaway-ish for me, but I guess that’s what the business is catered/designed for. I was hoping the rolls would be cheaper, perhaps like $4 or $5. Perhaps we need more Vietnamese immigrants like Melbourne. =)

My rating is a very favourable 9/10. It’s something new, the flavours and pricing do not disappoint. The rolls could be cheaper but I guess they’re one of two Vietnamese restaurants in town.

Vietnam Cafe

Lately for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find alternative Vietnamese restaurants. And yes, there is one in Otahuhu called the Vietnam Cafe. I used to know the place because it was near my old work place (Mt Wellington). Ah, those were the days.

Vietnam Cafe is quite easy to spot, it’s off Atkinson Ave. It’s pretty much the route you’d use if you’re coming from Mt Wellington towards Otahuhu, or taking the Princess St offramp. ¬†The parking is harder to spot because it’s at the back. You’d spot the cafe, but most likely miss the turn for the carpark!

The place generally looks dodgy because of the car park. And it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s owned by Vietnamese. You be the judge. =)

A few dishes were sampled as shown below:


Combination Noodle Soup.


Vietnamese Noodle.


Curry Chicken on Rice Noodle.


Traffic Light.

I’d say the best dish to try is the combination noodle soup. ¬†The rest are OK. I even tried the “Traffic Light” drink which was somewhat disappointing. The dishes are cheap though, $10 for the curry chicken on rice noodle and vietnamese noodle. The combination noodle is $12. Traffic Light is $3.50.

Personally, if you do go there, just get the combination noodle soup. It’s not bad. The rest you’d have to cross your fingers. I found the curry chicken rice noodle a bit plain. The drink was also a bit plain. However, one thing I notice is the fried spring rolls which “looked” good.

My rating is 7/10. Good enough for me because of one dish. Perhaps they forgot to add MSG on my curry chicken. =) 

On another note, I believe there is another Vietnamese place opening very soon on Beach Road (near Foodtown/China Restaurant). Can someone confirm this? I’m interested to find out if it’s already open, or going to open. I knew about it because they sold a damn good Pho (noodle soup) during the Lantern festival.

Halong Vietnamese Restaurant

I don’t often venture out to the west, so this a rare one. For now, as far west I can go is New Lynn. Yeah I know, that’s pathetic. As I was passing by the New Lynn mall, I noticed an out-of-place restaurant called the Halong Vietnamese Restaurant. So, I decided to try the place, mainly because I couldn’t find this other place.

Anyway, this restaurant is kinda secluded and clearly doesn’t look like a Vietnamese place. But it does try hard. Once I heard the kitchen staff spoke Mandarin, I knew it was owned or managed by Chinese. Similar to Hansan and the Vietnamese Cafe. Anyway, tried two dishes shown below.


Lemon Grass Chicken and Roast Pork Slices on Rice.


Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup.

Both dishes were cheap, $10 or below. I think the noodle soup was about $8 or something. The noodle soup wasn’t too bad, but the rice dish was average. There’s nothing much I could say about the place except that it’s probably somewhere you’d go just to eat. There is nothing special but it is affordable.

My rating for the place is 7/10. No complains – just average!

Ponsonby Food Court

If you’re ever in the Ponsonby area, you’re practically spoiled for choice. Unfortunately, like me, I’m on an average salary and can’t afford the luxury of dining in some of Ponsonby’s best (although I’d love to).

It was basically a random thing to go to this foodcourt, as I don’t pass by Ponsonby Food Court that often. If you don’t know where it is, it’s located on Ponsonby Road, near-ish to Burger Fuel. Actually, I had the opportunity to dine here many times about 2 years ago when I “lived” there. Couple years down the track, it hasn’t changed, except the new addition of the Mexican place.

The night we dined, it was packed so it must be good. We tried two dishes, a Japanese and Vietnamese dish. The foodcourt has various other cuisines, check out their website. Some pictures below:

Chicken Donburi.

Ginger Chicken on Rice.

The chicken donburi was actually not bad for $10 (from Dami Sushi). It’s an all-time favourite. Unfortunately, I thought the dish could do with less salt/soya sauce. Perhaps, a majority of people like it salty, like most people like their coffee with sugar (baseless conclusion FYI). The ginger chicken on rice was also very nice for $11.50 (from Mekong Vietnamese). Apparently, it’s quite a popular dish in the foodcourt. However, I’m not a big fan of crispy skin chicken, and thought the meat was a bit dry. Anyway, for $11.50, it’s quite a large dish.

I didn’t try the other stuff, the Indian and Chinese stores looked a bit plain. The Italian kinda isolated. The Malaysian store is well-placed, perhaps might try it. The Mexican and Thai seems popular. And last but not least, the guys in the middle doing the drinks – raking all the cash with their overpriced drinks and so-called juices.

Overall, Ponsonby Foodcourt is not bad. I haven’t been there for a while. It definitely has variety and it’s cheap in an “uptown” suburb. But I think the “authenticity” of the food here has been modified to suit. For this particular night, 7/10. There are better foodcourts out there I think.

Atrium Food Court

Ahhhh.. what can I say. This place is full of variety and affordable dishes from Chinese, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Thai and many more.

The two spots we picked are the Vietnamese stand – Pho and Banana Leaf.

Chicken rice.

Lemon grass pork on rice noodle.

Overall, for dishes below $9, they’re not too bad. I’ve never tried the Vietnamese before but it’s always quite lonely. I can see why – it’s being overshadowed by the cheap Chinese stand next to it, the “excitement” of the Mexican on the other side and the overly popular Japanese stand nearby. Pho did make a mistake, instead of the pork I ordered, I’m sure I tasted chicken. It looked like chicken as well. I certainly won’t go back there even though the dish is decent. The competition is just too stiff and Pho lacks the marketability – sad but true, that’s what happens when you’re in a food court. You just need to catch the customer’s attention.

A notable mention would be the Malaysian – Banana Leaf. You even get a loyalty card. The chicken rice is not bad, but I have more favourite dishes in there (curry and wonton noodle soup). The portion is large and they seem to give a bowl of soup for most dishes. Very nice.

At this stage, I’ll give the Atrium food court an 8/10 for these two stands. I’d recommend Banana Leaf rather than Pho. There will be more to come, particularly the Japanese stand. It’s got so many variety, it’s crazy! Atrium has one fantastic thing, it’s free parking on the weekends if you spend more than $5 and it’s smack in the middle of town – that means you can go shopping. One destination I’d recommend is that $3 Japanese shop. =)


Hansan in Newmarket is one of those places that is easily recognisable. It’s located across the fitness centre in Nuffield Street. I decided to go there because it’s one of those moment where I thought, “Oh I haven’t been there for quite a while.”

Hansan claims itself to be a Vietnamese restaurant, but recently it has a new competitor. In fact, it’s the losing side compared to Pho South Vietnam restaurant. And tonight at Hansan, it still cannot overcome Pho’s superiority. The dishes we had, chicken beef curry with rice noodle and vermicelli with pork. We had a starter/side, which is the chicken satay – 2 tiny pieces for $4.50. Quite pathetic I thought, and could get large chunkier satay chicken pieces about 10 mins walk in Newmarket plaza (the foodcourt).

Chicken satay.

Beef curry with rice noodle.

Barbecued pork skewer with vermicilli.

We also had another dish, the chicken curry with egg noodle. Overall, the price for the dishes are reasonable, around $8.50 and flavoursome. However, the curry beef was disappointing – almost no meat. The chicken curry wasn’t too bad.

I have to give this place a 6/10 for this occasion. I wasn’t happy with the portion/size of the side dish, and the curry beef had more fat and skin than meat. Hansan seriously need to work on giving quality not quantity. Not everyone eats everything from the animal. I have seen high ratings for this place, so I believe it depends on what dish you have.

Pho South Vietnam Restaurant

Oh my, oh my. This place is great. It’s one of my regular visits, simply because all their dishes are of high standard and it’s affordable. With the increase in food and fuel prices, you don’t even need to sell your kidneys to eat hereI I have tried a lot of dishes here, from the special fried rice (below), tomato rice, curry rice noodle etc. Additionally, it has won the best sandwich award from Metro last year.

Roast Pork Vietnamese Bun.

Deep fried chicken with special fried rice.

The sandwich is great. It’s really close to what I’ve tried in Footscray, (which is one of the Vietnamese suburbs in Melbourne) except over there, the food is much more authentic and it’s ridiculously cheap. For example, a Vietnamese bun, you’d expect to pay AUD3. In Pho, (the sandwich section is called Banh Mi Bale), it’s like NZD6. But hey, it’s the only place I know that sell these Vietnamese buns in Auckland.

The place should be notably mentioned for their rice noodle soup and fried rice. They are flavoursome and well-presented. I’m going to give this place a 9/10, and very close to authentic Vietnamese food. Also, the prices for their dishes are below $10. The rice noodle soups are great for winter, so I’d recommend going there for the next 3-4 months.

Oh, and I almost forgot, try the Vietnamese coffee. It’s heavenly.