After a long afternoon walking around central London in the cold with Jorge yesterday searching for the perfect Christmas jumpers, not much sounded better than thawing our hands in a warm restaurant and settling in to a big bowl of steaming pho. We had been invited to visit the newest branch of Vietnamese street food restaurant Pho which opened in July this year – on the seventh anniversary of the first branch on St. John Street. Healthy, warm and something different.
Photo: Pho Spitalfields by everdaylife.style
We were welcomed by friendly staff who showed us to a seat by the window. The atmosphere was set by giant woven ball-shaped lights that cast concentric circle shadows on the ceiling. They reminded me of relaxing, natural disco balls, if you can imagine that!
The music was uplifting and could be controlled by a secret DJ. Anyone could download their app and tend to the “jukebox” from their phone. The small space was packed full of people enjoying a taste of Southeast Asia.
Recommended by a waitress, we tried the Banh Xeo Tom Ga, a traditional Vietnamese crepe filled with prawns, chicken and beansprouts. This was our favourite, even better than the main dishes. The crepe is not what you think of when you think of, say, a French crepe. It looks more like a fried version of an open taco, filled up with beansprouts, chicken and prawn. The waitress explained how to eat it which was to break off parts of the crepe and wrap it in pieces of lettuce, stick in some herbs before dipping the whole parcel of yumminess into the sauce on the side. It was definitely messy, but we’d both go back just for that. Trust me, the iPhone pictures don’t do it justice.
For the main dish, Jorge ordered the Pho Xao Thit Ga, wok fried flat rice noodles with lemongrass chili and onion, served with peanuts and the nuoc cham sauce. It had a bit of a kick to it which he enjoyed.
I was originally going to choose that big steaming bowl of pho that I had been thinking about earlier, but I can’t resist a good noodle dish so, at the recommendation of the waitress again, I went for the Bun Cha Gio Tom with juicy tiger prawns. The vermicelli rice noodles (served cold like they are in Vietnam) with stir fried topping, fresh herbs, peanuts and a veggie spring roll came in a gigantic bowl. I poured over my nuoc cham sauce and dug in. Though all off the food was delicious, my main dish didn’t necessarily have a particular wow factor and I did leave wondering what I missed by not ordering their famous pho. But that will make deciding what to order next time easier.
To drink, we had refreshing glasses of freshly squeezed apple, mint & lime juice and topped off the evening with some creamy honey and ginger ice cream.
Quick fact: Pho is correctly pronounced “fuh” although most people outside of Vietnam tend to pronounce it “foe”.
Check the Pho website for all of of their seven locations: http://www.phocafe.co.uk