When it comes to eating out, although I love an indulgent spread (and often have eyes bigger than my belly), I hate that feeling of being so full to bursting that you end up leaving the restaurant feeling uncomfortable. Lately when discussing going for dinner, Liam and I have often commented that we’re craving something a little lighter and healthier, and we particularly love East and Southeast Asian cuisine. But we hadn’t found the perfect spot nearby that ticks all of these boxes – that was, until Pho in Gunwharf came along and answered all our foodie prayers.
We visited the Pho restaurant two weeks ago to get a taste of their signature Vietnamese street food. Their name relates to the Vietamese national dish (and the restaurant’s speciality) – an aromatic noodle soup served with a side of fresh herbs to add your desired flavour to the dish. As you’d imagine, their menu offers a variety of noodle soups, from classics like steak, chicken or prawn, to hot and spicy soups or house specials like their crab noodle soup.
We started with their Vietnamese pancakes, and pork spring rolls. The pancakes came with rice paper, herbs and sauces so that you could construct them yourself – they were utterly delicious and so flavoursome. The spring rolls were also incredible; perfectly crispy and served with a tasty peanut sauce that complemented the pork.
For our mains, of course at least one of us had to order the noodle soup (especially as several friends recommended it upon hearing we were visiting Pho for dinner). Liam opted for the beef brisket pho and added prawns and mushrooms. I had the beef fried noodles – flat noodles served with lemongrass, chilli and greens as well as peanuts and chilli sauce.
I have it on good authority that the pho was delicious – their broths are made in the restaurant by simmering bones for 12 hours, in an authentic homage to the Vietnamese national dish. This retains the dish’s flavour as well as developing its own tastes and aromas as it brews. In addition to being encouraged to customise the noodle soup with the herbs served on the side, there are also a variety of traditional sauces on the table, like chilli paste, fish sauce or garlic vinegar. I love the idea that you can play with the flavours and aromas and create something that’s completely your own – especially if you’re already a fan of Vietnamese food and know what you like.
My fried noodles were lovely – the different flavours complemented each other perfectly, the beef was tender, and drizzling the chilli sauce over the noodles gave it the perfect kick. I also loved the contrast of the crunch of the peanuts against how softened and lean the meat was.
Although it was quite quiet when we arrived, by the time our main courses were served the restaurant was totally packed out – I was impressed to see that there were a lot of families there, and even very small children digging into their ‘mini Pho’ or bun noodles! There was a great, bustling atmosphere, and as well as their amazing food they also serve delicious cocktails (like their lemon and basil martini) – so it’s perfect for a weekend treat.
It’s easy to gush about a dining experience when you’ve been invited for a review but I always pride myself on being honest about the food and service – and I genuinely could not fault anything about our evening at Pho. Everything we ate was so flavoursome and delicious, the service was attentive and the waitress gave great recommendations and advice (and gave Liam a bib to protect his new shirt from the risk of dripped soup!) and the atmosphere and restaurant itself were lively and modern. We’ve already discussed going back as soon as possible, and I’m very excited that we’ve finally found the perfect spot for Vietnamese food that’s light but packed with flavour.
Have you visited a Pho restaurant before?