Friday, June 17, 2011

Pho, England by Bureaucrat

Going to Pho was quite a disappointment.

The first time I came across Pho, there was a big line of people queuing to get a table. It was then when I decided that I had to try the place.

So on a drizzly Saturday, the Lawyer and I went to Pho for lunch. Inside, a clean modern set-up, with extra seating downstairs. Despite getting there during a non-peak time, the staff were a bit slow in showing us a table, and seemed more interested talking amongst themselves.

For drinks, I got a lemongrass tea, while the Lawyer got the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (ca phe).

For starters, we shared the deep fried lemongrass porkballs. The pork seemed dry and had an odd straw-like texture. I would guess that the porkballs had been pre-made, and then re-fried when it's ordered by the customer. Depending on the food, double frying works, but in this instance, it resulted in rather dry porkballs. However, tt could be that they used the tougher part of the lemongrass in the meatballs. In which case, tsk, tsk, tsk, on two accounts - for being cheap and not using the tender white part of the stalk, and the lack of lemongrass flavour.

As it's been over a year since I had pho, I went with the classic beef pho. This was a let down. A tough cut of meat was used. I'm not adverse to tough cuts of meats when they are properly prepared (eg stewing, slow cooking). However, when they're sliced rather thickly and expected to cook in the hot broth, it results in a chewy experience. The noodles seemed like it came from a low quality brand, and clumped together.

The only (slightly) positive point was that the broth was a reasonable attempt at a proper broth (so not made with a stock cube). Despite this, it still lacked the deep, rich flavour and colour of a properly made broth.

The Lawyer went with pho with beef, brisket and meatballs. This also suffered the same weaknesses as the dish above.

Quite a disappointment. Food was below average and the service, at best, was well-meaning (despite the rather agressive nature...repeated interrogation by the manager, "are YOU enjoying YOUR MEAL?"), and at worst, indifferent from the rest of the staff.

I get the feeling that Pho is pitched at punters who aren't familar with Vietnamese food, or don't know better.

Although I haven't come across many Vietnamese places in London, I figure there would many other places that would be much better than Pho. Go elsewhere, I say!

3 Great Titchfield St
Fitzrovia W1W 8AX
Telephone: (020) 7436 0111

Pho on Urbanspoon


Mzungu said...

I tried Pho once. Never again, it was a poor excuse for a soup. As you say they are aimed at people who have no idea who Pho is supposed to be.
For Pho in London head out East along the Pho Mile

Bureaucrat said...

I haven't heard of the pho mile - where is it? Desperate for a proper pho and rice paper rolls!! =)

Anonymous said...

had the same experience-not so hot food and not so hot staff!

Kake said...

The Pho Mile is Kingsland Road — check out Bellaphon's survey.

There are also several Vietnamese places in Deptford (particularly along the High Street).

Bureaucrat said...

Thanks for the tip - gotta check it out =)

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