Pho might now be a mega chain but each restaurant has its own quirks and charm that lend to a surprisingly independent, family-run feel in keeping with the original ethos that founders Stephen and Juliette Wall set out to instil when they opened the first branch 13 years ago. Inspired by their extensive travels through Vietnam, the couple set out to bring authentic street food to the UK served in a relaxed and informal setting not too dissimilar to the laid-back stalls that line the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
They created a menu of healthy, fresh and affordable dishes cooked daily on each site with a particularly strong focus on the eponymous dish – a steaming vermicelli noodle soup flavoured with a meat or meatless option of your choice and served traditionally with a bowl of fresh herbs and aromats to season and garnish the dish as you please. The Pho house special includes tiger prawns, chicken and flash fried steak with garlic in beef stock but there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too incorporating tofu, a variety of mushrooms and plenty of greens.
The starters are designed for sharing and perfect for dipping in the range of condiments that adorn each table : homemade chilli paste, garlic vinegar, siracha and fish sauce. They centre around the ever-popular spring and summer rolls filled with a variety of fresh and zingy ingredients. If the signature pho broth doesn’t appeal then a number of enticing salads, curry and rice, and wok-fried noodle dishes are also available. Don’t overlook the simple-sounding chicken rice bowl with comes loaded with vegetables and herbs along with a succulent marinated chicken thigh. The green papaya salad is another highlight if you’re searching for some spice.
The Leeds branch is located in Trinity Kitchen in the striking Trinity Centre shopping mall on Albion Street. Surrounded by retailers and just a short walk form the train station and the Headrow and Kirkgate market it’s a convenient location for a quick light lunch or post-shopping treat with friends. Plus with over a quarter of the menu vegan and almost entirely gluten-free it’s a hugely accessible dining spot for all.