1st Sep 2012 4:53pm | By Carol Driver
Branches of this independent Vietnamese street food chain are popping up all over the place – with the latest in Spitalfields, just a hop away from the buzzing bars of Brick Lane and Shoreditch.
The scene Set in an old rickety three-storey building, the latest addition is styled on the old houses of Hanoi, with dark wooden tables and cosy lantern lighting. It’s bustling on the Friday night I visit.
The huge windows of the downstairs area hug one end of the room – giving diners an almost-alfresco option – the busy kitchen is at the other. While upstairs is a cosy seating area as well as a takeaway counter, which is open seven days a week.
The grub With its ethos firmly set by its street food origins, expect dishes to be fresh and fairly healthy.
My friends and I opt for a bunch of starters to share: Goi Cuon (veggie spring rolls); Nem Nuong (pork and lemongrass meatballs); and Rau Muong Xao Lai (stir fried morning glory).
It’s all flavoursome and finished in minutes. Next, we decide to test Pho’s specialty – Vietnam’s national dish which is what the restaurant is named after.
Three large bowls of glass noodle soup arrive, brimming with ingredients – choose from tofu and mushroom for veggies, sliced steak, brisket, meatballs, chicken or prawns.
They’re served with a side of herbs, chillies and beansprouts which you can add according to your own taste.
Despite the mammoth meal, we decide to share two desserts – Chuoi Chien (banana fritter with ice cream) and Pandan Pancake (bright green pancake served with roasted coconut and ice cream) are delicious. The staff are friendly, helpful and smiley.
Behind the bar Choose from fresh juices and herbal teas as well as Vietnamese beers (Halida, Hue, Saigon, Beer Lao) and rice wines. Oh, and they also serve weasel coffee (made from beans eaten and digested by weasels).
Bill please Starters from £2.30; mains from £5.45; desserts from £2.25; wine from £3.10/ £14.90; beers from £3.60; weasel coffee £5.95.
Verdict Fast food that’s fresh and healthy and won’t leave you hungry.
48 Brushfield Street, E1 6AG
Tube | Liverpool Street