pho is the vietnamese face of the fast proliferating far asian eateries that have come to populate london’s world food-scape. pho is functional, both in terms of its decor and its food. straight lines, white walls with round glass lights and red surfaced tables. bowls of steaming soup and a side of herbs and garnishes or stir-fries are served in white bowls emphasizing the colours of their contents.
my chicken pho lets of an aromatic steam – it is slices of chicken resting on a bed of white noodles and circled by a clear soup stock. on a rectangular plate beside me is a ladle, some lime, some mint, some basil, a handful of bean-sprouts and some chilli. i sweep all of it into my bowl and begin twisting the noodles on my chopsticks. what i love about pho is the simplicity and wholeness of their food. there isn’t too much going on. just good quality ingredients with a stellar stock to bring it all together. the bean sprouts add crunch, the lime a bit of zest and the chilli, a bit of a hit. the stir-fries are equally good. similar flavours but with an addition of crunch by way of peanuts.
for a dessert i usually opt for vietnamese coffee. it’s a guaranteed sugar-rush induced by sweetened condensed milk. and it is served in a glass mug bearing a layer of sweetened condensed milk into which the filtered coffee drips through the filter which rests on top of the mug. a slight agitation with the movement of a spoon begins the movement to a rich, very sweet but still strong coffee.