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22 August 2012
Absolutely perfect for a quick lunch at very reasonable prices. To find somewhere with such high quality – and differentiated – food so close to the chaos of Oxford Street is highly satisfying. Pho does not do pretention (basic decor and slightly tatty menus, staff dressed very casually), but this adds to the effect. It feels very much like a ‘local’ restaurant, perhaps much more suited to a back street in Hackney than its actual location , and it was a highly encouraging sign that we were among the distinct minority, as suit-wearing westerners. My dining comrade and I were immediately made to feel welcome and the menu was clearly explained to us. Rather than offeribng a wide and confusing range of potentially daunting options, there was a clear focus on broths. Staff were very happy to allow us to customise ours with extras. The food arrived promptly and was a delight to eat, very strong emphasis on fresh ingredients and highly flavoursome. The provision of paper bibs for those less dextrous at eating soups with a ladle and chopsticks was also a welcome touch! Full marks to Pho and miles ahead of yesterday's lunch destination (Novikov). Whereas Novikov tries and fails to be all things Asian to those who want to be seen, Pho sticks to what matters, good food, served quickly and efficiently to anyone who ventures to find it.
09 June 2010
Wonderful little place around the corner from my flat. I'd become a bit bored of the usual Chinese and Thai Asian meals, but then I came across Vietnamese, and I can't get enough.
Such fresh and zesty flavours, and so very healthy too. It gets very busy here, but we just ring up to find out when it's calmed down a bit as we live so near. Very, very good indeed!
24 April 2010
Given a not-so-warm and seemingly disinterested welcome, we were plonked down on the nearest table without any friendly banter or the customary welcoming smile when you go to a restaurant. Service is patchy and inconsistent and definitely slower than it should be, in lieu of the number of staff working. The menu here is simple and a few of the really interesting sounding dishes are only available in the evening, which is a bit of a drag.
We order skewers minced pork and lemongrass meatballs, Vietnamese prawn summer rolls and a salad of unripe mango with minced pork. The meatballs are succulent and moreish and the mango salad is refreshing and crunchy but personally, I find the summer rolls to be a tad bland and the wrapping to be too thick for its scant prawn filling, which even with the dipping sauce (that seems to accompany everything) I could happily live without.
Main courses, we decide to share a bowl of the spicy prawn Pho and a cold dish of ‘bun’ noodles, which are cold vermicelli noodles with chopped vegetables, served with a cold spring roll and a hot meat topping. The Pho is really very good though and comes like a much needed ray of sunshine through the meal. A wonderfully spicy and flavoursome broth brimming with noodles, prawns accompanied by a side plate of the traditional accoutrements of mixed herbs. Desserts are a rather limited and we pass on them. Overall not a bad place to grab a bowl of Pho and its cheap and cheerful. Perhaps Wagamama needs to watch its back if this group sees more success and with its 3rd branch already open in Westfield, it looks like things are on the up.
07 January 2010
After unsuccessfully trying to recreate my favourite Vietnamese breakfast at home, I started the search for good Pho in London and I came across this small chain. The restaurant is clean and friendly and the Phos are quite good. They might not be exactly what you have eaten in Vietnamese street cafes but better almost-Pho than no-Pho I say. So far I have tasted the Pho Ga (chicken pho) and Pho Tam (prawn pho) only at this place and they both tasted fresh and delicious, although the broth itself could do with a little more depth of flavour. I also like that when you take Pho away here they give you several containers, separating the broth from the noodles, which is super important so you don't end up with noodle-mush. Pho Cafe is a great addition to the London fast food scene and a lovely change from Wagamama and I do think that Pho itself is a gift to the culinary world, especially since every person can interactively alter the Pho to their own personal preference of salty, sour, herby and spicy.
07 October 2009
This place is a real find. Not the place for having a long leisurely dinner, even though we did stay for quite a while. All very fresh food and the weasel coffee is a must try !
Came back again on 30 September with my parents, sister and partner. All top notch again, especially with 50% off the food (makes it the same price as MacDonald's really !). Great noodle soups, heaps of starters to share, all fresh, tasty and moorish. However, the weasel coffee this time seemed to be a lot weaker than the last time we went, which was a real disappointment. It appears that they are now grounding the beans onsite instead of having it bought it – perhaps that is the difference. So, I now wouldn't recommend trying it for the price. But for everything else, spot on. Brilliant restaurant given its proximity to Oxford Circus.
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