Restaurant Review: Pho, Wardour St


I don’t know what it is about noodles, but I love them, especially soup noodles. Maybe it’s the texture, maybe it’s freshness of ingredients, maybe it’s the danger of the whole lot tipping into your lap, but since my first taste of Tom Yam at Manchester’s Tampopo, I’ve been hooked.

Wagamama’s, of course, will do for a quick fix, but I’m always on the lookout for something different. The latest place on the noodles trail was Pho in Wardour St.

Maybe Friday night wasn’t the most sensible time to go visiting a new restaurant, but there were only two of us and we got there just after 6:30pm. It was already full. We had to wait just over 15 minutes for a table, although to be fair, we could have been seated immediately if we’d been happy with the high-stools at the communal table.

We got seated near the door and so had a good view of everyone else coming in and being told how long they had to wait. It was nearly 40 minutes at one point for a table of four. I think you can safely say the place is popular. They don’t do bookings, either. Don’t show up at 8pm with a party of ten and expect to get seated, at all. (And yes, we did see this happen!)

The menu from a veggie perspective is brilliant. How many places give you the option to have veggie stock and say which sauces are OK for you to eat?

I went for the Cha Gio Chay (veggie spring rolls).
Cha Gio Chay, Veggie Fried Spring Rolls
They weren’t the crispest I’d ever had, but they were nice and chewy. Quite often veggie spring rolls are heavy on the beansprouts and light on internal texture. These were very satisfying, so much so that I had to check with my companion that I had ordered the veggie version.

I suppose at my first visit to a place called Pho, I should have tried the pho. I nearly did, but Bun Chay Hue was described as hot and spicy. I will crawl over broken glass for something described as hot and spicy.
Bun Chay Hue, Hot and Spicy Tofu and Mushroom Soup
Not pictured there is the little plate with beansprouts, coriander, basil, mint and red birdseye chillis to customise the soup. It was lovely. The broad, rice noodles were soft but not squishy. There was plenty of tofu compared to mushrooms. The stock was flavourful and with enough heat not to need the chillis on the side (but I did anyway!)

My one gripe is that the noodles came with one of those bamboo ladle things. I don’t know why restaurants do this. There are other ‘authentic’ spoons that don’t mean you have to hold something up past your ear to get some soup into you.

I had the coconut ice-cream to finish with, which was nice, but unremarkable. My companion had the strawberry and basil sorbet, which was much better. However, next time I think I’ll try the iced coffee. They also serve weasel-pooh coffee!

I really liked Pho. It was cosy without feeling that you were sitting at your neighbours’ table. The lighting was a bit subdued, hence the less than stellar quality of the photos for this post. I only had my iphone with me, next time I’ll take a camera with a flash.

The meal for two with fruit juice and tea came to £46 including service.

I’ll be back. Several times, I should think. There’s quite a few more entries on that menu I want to try.


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