Every Monday morning in depths of the Melbourne winter I find the same thing happens to me. I arrive at work, sit at my desk, and a thick dark fog settles into the recesses of my brain. I attempt to read my emails, start a task, but its all hopeless. Not even a double shot Italian Piccolocino latte` is enough to lift the fog and jolt me out of my serious back to work, weekend is over, winter is here blues. It’s cold, it’s dark, the sky is snarling. The morning drags, it feels like the 1 pm lunch break will never come.
On a Monday like this there is only one thing to do – eat. Eat wholesome, warm, big hug comfort food. A little reward for getting through the first half the work day. A little something to help you through the afternoon.
Cilantro Star is the perfect place for a lively lunch pick me up on a dreary Melbourne Monday. A steaming bowl of beefy broth filled with rice noodles, crunchy bean shoots and red hot chilli is enough to put a healthy pink glow on anyone’s frozen cheeks.
I have only ever ordered the beef pho here and let me tell you, it is magnificent. The food is delivered quickly leaving ample time for a good slurp and gossip through the lunch break.
A plate of lovely pho additions arrives first. The plate has everything you would expect, basil, bean shoots, lemon and chilli. Enough to have your bowl bursting with colour, flavour and fireworks. My only query is whether it should be lime instead of lemon on my plate. I remember those hot mornings eating pho for breakfast in Hanoi. My pho was always served with a wedge of lime, not lemon. The lime added a gorgeous zing.
The real fun starts at Cilantro Star when the soup arrives. It smells so wonderful, so tangy, so delicious. I can’t help but take a good sniff of the steam wafting from the hot broth. In through the nose, out through the throat, like a good deep yoga breath. It feels almost medicinal. Monday medicine. Better than a hot tea with lemon and ginger at your desk.
The soup is fantastic. Clean and aromatic with bits of thinly sliced and slightly pink rare beef, slippery rice noodles, onion, coriander and a variety of spices. By the time you have stirred in your bean shoots, chilli and basil the beef has cooked through perfectly. It is so filling, so warming, so comforting. As I happily slurp the broth and pop bits of beef and noodles into my mouth I can easily forget that it’s Monday, it’s winter, and that I have to go back to work in an hour.
The other thing to love about this place is the ample indoor seating. I don’t want to have to shiver over my soup, pulling my coat tightly around me and risk my scarf taking a little dip. I need a warm dry place out of the wind and cold to enjoy my meal.
Whether its curing the Melbourne cold or just middle of the day Monday comfort, Cilantro Star’s beef pho is fantastic, delicious, and sure to warm the cockles of your heart any day of the week.
Cilantro Star- Shop C2/550 Lonsdale St (Healeys Lane) Melbourne, VIC