Restaurant review: Pho, Upper Street, N1

Fresh, invigorating food at Pho Pic: Paul Winch-Furness

Fresh, invigorating food at Pho Pic: Paul Winch-Furness - Credit: Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness

Vietnamese food, once the preserve of a small stretch of Kingsland Road, has entered the mainstream – a transition evident nowhere more than the phenomenal success of the Pho chain.

From the original venture in Clerkenwell, they now boast eight restaurants across the capital and have just opened one in Yorkshire which is, by all accounts, doing well.

The owners may be westerners, but they take a serious approach to authenticity – the chefs hail from Vietnam and the proprietors make regular fact-finding trips to Hanoi to check out the street food scene and bring back tasty tips

Even the drinks have ‘nam flavour, from the pun-tastic phojito cocktail to Saigon beer and apple wine.

Fresh, invigorating flavours are the order of the day.

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To start, the summer roll was a chilled, zesty version of the spring variety. That said, their spring rolls were splendid, enjoying a crunchy, textured pasty and generous filling.

The salt and pepper squid had a DIY ethos, with seasoning and lime juice sprinkled on to taste.

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But the real star of the show was the eponymous pho – a huge, hearty, herb laden broth packed to the absolute brim with the meat of your choice.

Full of flavour to begin with, they came accompanied by two types of coriander, Thai basil, more lime and some rather aggressive chillies. Add them bit by bit and watch the taste portfolio grow.

If you like your food restorative and lively, Pho is a good bet.

It makes me wish there was one near the newsroom, although one of those enormous soups for lunch could lead to an involuntary under-the-desk nap in the afternoon.

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