Today is the first Tuesday of November. The day Australian economy stops. There is a huge horse race called Melbourne Cup and all the corporates have functions and their phones are put on answering machines. I decided it might be a good timing to have a bowl of pho at the popular AJ’s.
AJ’s is a place I must confess I was a bit conscious of when I started thinking about setting up my business. Out of a room that is about the size of an average bedroom, they turn many many times over their 26 seats. From an efficiency perspective, this business is probably up there on the top. As you can see, the tables are crammed together, no space for ideals such as barrier free or pram friendly. The waitresses not so subtly take away empty plates to give the relaxed Brisbane diners an idea that it’s time for them to leave.
I always order the special beef noodle soup. Flat rice noodles with beef broth, tripe, tendons, beef balls, boiled brisket and thin loin slices as well as fresh sprouts, Vietnamese basil and lemon on the side. The broth is pretty good though it makes you pretty thirsty afterwards… By the way, I don’t deny MSG in fastfood at all, I think it’s an amazing invention that changed the world. In the world of ramen, the same debate goes on and on. My current conclusion is, I think if it tastes good and if the customers aren’t being betrayed for their expectations, it’s ok. My ramen at Taro’s is a super premium product, (the haagen dazs of ramen!) and it will be an act of betrayal to the super premium ingredients and to the customers to use MSG.
The noodles are always very soft, the texture that of a canned spaghetti rather than noodles which I am used to, like ones you can pick up with your chopsticks rather than your spoon. I wonder what an authentic appreciation for the pho noodles is. I can understand that from the nature of the flat rice noodle, enjoying the chewing texture is probably not important. Is there a Vietnamese or keen pho expert reader that can comment?
I would also prefer the thin loin slices to be more rare instead of being well done like theirs. Still, when I have my noodle craving, I can satiate with a pho fix at AJ’s.
And regardless of my few complaints, they are pretty good and out of the choices we have in Brisbane CBD lunch spots, are still high on my repeat list.