Another popular Asian noodle-house in the Hunter Connection is The Naughty Chef, an option for people who aren’t feeling lunch at C&I Noodle House. They serve up “authentic” flavours from Vietnam including many variations of pho and an assortment of rice dishes. I opted for the Special Beef Soup Pho with a side of Chrysanthemum tea.
The setup of The Naughty Chef is a little strange with the counter and kitchen separated from the seating area by another shop. It felt a bit strange walking down the arcade with my tray of noodles with the other hurried travelers. The seating area was rather outdated, with old furniture and decor, harsh fluorescent lighting and a strange smell in the air.
The main ingredients of the Special Beef Soup Pho are rare beef, beef brisket, beef balls and, curiously, chicken (which I believe was there to make up for the missing tendon). The toppings of spring onion, bean sprouts and Vietnamese mint were sparse. It looked to be a mediocre pho at best so… here we go.
I found the broth to be lacking in spices and there was also more MSG than most other broths. The beef balls were ok but the rare beef was of really low quality and overcooked which left it tasteless and chewy. It was weird to have chicken in my beef pho and it was a poor stand-in for the delicious tendons. At least the beef brisket was the dish’s only redeeming feature, having good flavour and that melt-in-your-mouth quality.
The Chrysanthemum tea was watered down and lacked any sort of flavour or depth, more like yellow water. Not worth the $1 if you ask me.
A pretty lacking display of Vietnamese cuisine, especially for the $13 price tag. I’ll be looking elsewhere for my Beef Noodle Soup fix next time.
Cost: $13.00 including drink
Payment: Cash only