Pho – A Vietnamese Treat for Newbies
‘Pho’ is another London chain that has proved incredibly popular with the locals, especially for diners that are new to Vietnamese food -like myself.
I’m always on the look out for new cuisines to try and since ‘Pho’ was just around the corner there was never a better time.
The summer rolls take up a third of the starters menu and I just had to try them for myself. We ordered the prawn summer rolls as I thought they would be light and refreshing next to the fresh herbs. I was disappointed. The summer rolls look appetising however, once eaten it was hard to notice the prawns and was overpowered by the fresh herbs, mainly the coriander and tangy flavouring that was added to the vegetables.
Prawn crackers are an absolute favourite of mine and the perfect snack whilst waiting for the mains to arrive. I was intrigued by the difference between these and the usual prawn crackers served at Thai or Chinese restaurants. If you like prawn crackers then you won’t be disappointed but it’s probably best to skip this option as you won’t be trying anything new. Also, the sweet chilli dipping sauce tasted exactly like the sauce I had in my cupboard at home.
We also wanted to try the pork and lemongrass meatballs which was also served with nuoc cham. We did ask for the peanut dipping sauce but instead received nuoc cham sauce. As I enjoyed the sauce from earlier, I didn’t feel the need to complain. The meatballs were soft and meaty and served with the sauce, they added an extra tangy flavour to the meatball. A pleasant enough starter but I felt it was missing something to make it more exciting.
After munching away at the starters, the Pho arrived in a huge bowl which was a little daunting. It was served with a side of garnish and chilli to add more flavour.
I’m new to Vietnamese food and I don’t have anything to compare the pho with, but I loved the flavours and the broth was far from bland. The most enjoyable aspect of eating a dish such as pho, is the condiments and garnish served with it, as you are free to adjust the dish to your liking. I like my food quite spicy and although the chillies served in the garnish were very hot it felt satisfying adding extra chilli sauce.
After enjoying the main course and only managing to finish half, I had to order dessert. My friend ordered the fresh lime and strawberry basil sorbet which was delicious. After sipping a hot broth for the most part of the meal, it was refreshing to have sorbet as dessert. The strawberry basil sorbet is a must and the hint of basil in the strawberry works extremely well with the strawberry giving it a slight herby, yet sweet flavour.
My dessert of choice was the honey and ginger ice cream. I’m a huge fan of both flavours and as soon as I saw this on the menu I had to order it. If you’re a ginger lover, you will love this as the ginger is more prominent. Mixed with the sweet taste of honey and the creamy-ness of the ice cream it was a wonderful treat.
‘Pho’ is a perfect introduction to diners who are new to Vietnamese cuisine. I would, however, avoid the starters as they were disappointing and stick to the main course and desserts. I know I’m definitely intrigued by Vietnamese pho now and can’t wait to visit other places to compare.