Review: Pho, Spitalfields

Spring rolls

Calling all people familiar with Vietnamese food – I need your help. I have ventured into Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and Korean food. But I’ve yet to branch into Vietnamese food. This is where you can assist…

Pho is a Vietnamese café-restaurant chain across London, serving up its namesake, a popular street food dish. Pho is a broth rice noodles and may be made with various herbs, vegetables and meat/seafood. Thanks to the wonderful medium of Twitter and Pho’s generous giveaways, I’d managed to secure a £10 giftcard to spend.

Pho sign

This is where my quandary begins… because I really didn’t enjoy my pho! I really, really wanted to. First of all, Pho Spitalfields looks like a trendy, tasty place. The inside has cute, circular wooden tables and a fun luminous sign on the wall. It’s simplistic yet kind of cosy.

Phở tái lăn

I ordered Phtái lăn (£8.50) – flash fried steak with garlic (Hanoi style). I found the steak chewy and tasteless. Then there was the broth. Pho’s menu boasts about the 12 hours of preparation to create truly authentic flavours. My soup was bitter and not much else. It tasted solely of the copious spring onions that were floating around in it. It was served with bean sprouts, coriander, lime and chilli chunks, but these failed to contribute much, save for the chilli which I avoided to save my mouth from pain!

Accompanying veg

Now I can accept that they’d done a poor job on the steak…but is pho supposed to be bitter and fairly light in flavour? Do I just dislike pho??

Phở nấm rơm

My dining companion took Phnm rơm (£7.95) – enoki, shiitake and button mushrooms in veggie stock. I tried the broth and it was less bitter and slightly sweeter, but still underwhelming.

Chả giò

We also tried  Chgiò  – crispy spring rolls served with lettuce & herbs – with nước chấm (fish sauce) to dip (veggie £4.75). These were crispy but again had very little flavour!

The highlight was the freshly squeezed juice – we tried coconut, pineapple & apple (£3.30) which sounds odd, but was fantastic!

Soconut, pineapple & apple

So readers, do I dislike pho or is Pho just not up to scratch? I tend to mistrust chain restaurants so I’m sure it’s not the best representation of authenticity but even so… Opinions please!

Pho (Spitalfields) 2/5 – Maybe I just don’t like pho?!

Food 2/5 – Where was the flavour?
Value 3/5 – Fairly cheap and filling, although undoubtedly not a bargain by Vietnamese standards 😉
Atmosphere 3/5 – A little cramped but always bustling.
Service 3/5 – Prompt.

Where: London – Oxford Circus, Shepherds Bush, Brighton, Soho, Stratford, Spitalfields; Brighton

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

2 thoughts on “Review: Pho, Spitalfields”

  1. I too hated the pho at Pho but have had amazing pho at other, much better places. I reckon you’d love the proper stuff! We should go for some sometime 🙂

    1. Oh I’m so glad it’s not just me! I live right by a Pho and I stare at disbelief at how crowded it always is! I would love to try proper pho sometime, give me a shout when you have a craving for some 🙂

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