Most people come to Phoodle for its coffee and diverse Vietnamese cuisine. But since its opening in late June, Owner Allan Thai has learnt that’s not only the reason people walk through the door. “The other day a customer told me he came in because he saw our array of coffee equipment,” Allan says. “I thought that was pretty cool.
Allan has all the necessary gadgets for a dedicated espresso bar with two Mythos grinders and a Mahlkonig EK43 sitting on the bench. Phoodle is the new kid on the block in Kingsford. Located next to the University of New South Wales, students may have been on mid-semester break when Phoodle opened in late June, but Allan wasn’t worried.
“We’re ready to go. I can’t wait for the students to return and discover this welcome surprise to the street,” he says. “We’re offering something really different to the area – lots of exotic Vietnamese food, delicious coffee, and a look and feel that’s different to anything else on the street. We serve our signature beef soup Pho, but we also want to show customers Vietnamese food is more than just soup, so we’ve got Vietnamese tapas on the menu.”
Inside, Allan has let his former construction skills shine, and used his interior designer flair to create a warm and cosy feel with unique lights, wooden furnishings, a pergola, and pot plants hang from the ceiling. “I wanted to achieve an outdoors look, but inside,” Allan says. “Actually, it’s better than I expected.”
What is expected however, is quality coffee, thanks to Zest Specialty Coffee Roasters. “The Zest team has been great in training our baristas and raising the consistency of our product,” Allan says. “They helped build our coffee reputation.”
Allan and his baristas serve Zest’s Libertango blend through its three-group Synesso machine, for something “a little sweeter” to suit its largely Asian demographic. The Corcavado blend is served at Phoodle’s other venue in St Leonards, for customers who like “a bit of strength in their cup”.
For filter roasts, Allan says the Suke Quto microlot from Ethiopia has been great for drip coffee, cold press and pour over, but the options rotate frequently.
With no hospitality experience, Allan started the first Phoodle concept store two and a half years ago in St Leonards. Now, with a little help from his grandmother, the new Kingsford location is off to a great start.
“Without my grandma the quality of our food wouldn’t be what it is today. She’s passed down Vietnamese recipes that are 30 to 40 years old, and guided us from the very beginning,” Allan says. “To think we started Phoodle as a little café selling bowls of soup – we’ve come a long way.”