Lots has been written recently about the opening of Grand Central and it’s wealth of new eateries, both good and bad. There’s no getting away from the influx of chain restaurants into the city, but in my opinion there’s room for everyone and it’s an individuals choice about where they eat. I love my independents, but as pointed out in this piece here, being independent does NOT necessarily mean it is good food. Conversely this must mean that chain restaurants are not all bad either, right?
I’ve already reviewed Tapas Revolution in Grand Central, which is part of a small group of restaurants and I thought the food was pretty decent overall and I’ve now been three times to Vietnamese Street Food Chain, Pho. I adore this type of food as find it so fresh and tasty. I’ve not been to Vietnam, so can’t comment on the authenticity though! My three visits have been a bit inconsistent. Strangely, the first one, 2 days after opening was the best.
The service on all occasions was on the slow side, probably because it has been pretty packed each time. The third visit though they forgot all about our mains which was a little irritating, but these things happen. I’m not the biggest fan of communal style tables either, which some of the restaurant is, so would try and ask for my own table each time. I do like my own space!
I really enjoyed the Freshly made Apple Mint & Lime Juice and like the fact they do lots of different fresh juices.
Food wise, obviously the emphasis is on Pho (pronounced Fuh) – an aromatic rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please with varying meats and fish. There are also lots of starters or small dishes, salads and noodles dishes too.
Starters wise over the few visits I’ve tried the Gỏi cuốn – Fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli & pickle, the Mực chiên giòn – Tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip and the Nem hải sản – Large crispy spring roll of tiger prawn, crab & pork with nước chấm dipping sauce.
The summer rolls weren’t quite as good as those I’ve had a Min Min Noodle Bar, but they were very tasty none the less and I enjoyed them. The crab prawn and pork roll was very good indeed, but I found the squid a little overcooked which was disappointing.
For mains on one occasion I tried a Pho – the Phở tái with thinly sliced steak. I love the concept of Pho but didn’t enjoy the beef in it. I feel that no matter how well made the Pho is, the beef will always overcook and thus its not for me. Next time I think I will go for Tiger prawns or chicken which would work better for me, although I guess the risk of any meat or fish in a hot broth is that it will be overcooked. Maybe a veggie Pho would work best for me!
The other mains I’ve tried were the Bun Chicken Noodles which I really enjoyed and the Wok Fried Noodles. The Bun chicken was Vermicelli rice noodles with a lemongrass and chilli topping served with fresh herbs, beansprouts, veggie spring roll and peanuts. The Noodles are served at room temperature and you pour over the nước chấm sauce and mix it all together. I could eat this every single day of my life, it was delcicious. The Wok fried noodles I found a bit bland and covered it in siracha to get some flavour going.
On the third visit with a couple of fellow food bloggers we also shared a Green Mango Salad. it was almost there in flavour, but again lacked some punch and it was sad to see some of the lettuce limp and browning. I know my friend enjoyed her chicken wing starter so I might try this next time.
Not a flawless meal any of the occasions and overall a bit inconsistent, but, I really enjoy the flavours of Vietnamese food so I expect I will go again, so watch this space!
Disclosure: My first meal at Pho was complementary thanks to Libby their marketing manager who spotted us from when we had met previously and insisted we didn’t pay. Second and third meals were paid in full. All opinions are entirely or own.