So I kicked off my A-Z Food Project (check out the full post here) with V for Vietnamese.
This was an impromptu visit to Pho in Grand Central station in Birmingham last Saturday, when I needed to get out of the house and do something, which inevitably led to me eating!
Having just travelled to Vietnam and tried Pho in its home country, it had a lot to live up to if my first experience was anything to go by, not so much my second, but my first bowl of Pho was good.
There was a bit of a wait for a table but soon I was seated at one of the high tables, overlooking the concourse and perusing the menu. The decor of Pho is quite rustic with a good attempt at creating a street food like environment. It certainly was very busy and portrayed the hustle and bustle of Vietnam streets quite well.
Some parts of the service were slow, getting a table, getting the bill but for the most part the staff were friendly and helpful.
The drinks section of the menu was quite small, and I was disappointed to see that all their juices had apple in them, and I have an allergy to raw apple, and they weren’t able to offer something without apple in, so it was just a plain old diet coke for me.
I was more successful with the food, and it took a while for me to figure out what to have. In the end I opted for Nem hải sản (a large crispy spring roll with tiger prawn, crab & pork with nước chấm dipping sauce) for starters and a bowl of house special Pho – Phở bò nấm trúng (beef brisket, enoki & button mushrooms, creamy egg yolk, in beef broth).
The Nem hải sả came out fairly quickly and unlike most spring rolls it wasn’t circular in shape, it was a bit flatter. That said, it wasn’t greasy in the way some spring rolls were and was jam-packed full of filling and flavour. The tiger prawn was kept whole and ran throughout with the crab, pork and vegetable filling packed in around the tiger prawn, there was a nice hint of chilli, without being too spicy. The dipping sauce was also very good, quite vinegary but really complemented the spring roll.
Next up was the main attraction the Beef Brisket, mushroom and egg Pho. Pho is essentially a noodle soup served with a side of herbs that you add to the dish yourself and usually comes with either chicken or beef. The beef in this dish was really juicy, however, it could’ve done with being pulled apart a bit more as the pieces were quite big and not really suitable for chopsticks, especially for a learner like me!
There were two types of mushrooms in the dish, enoki and button mushrooms. Again, the enoki mushrooms could’ve done with being separated a bit more, but they gave the broth a very earthy flavour.
The broth was full of flavour, but I decided to up the heat and add some chilli oil to it to give it the kick I felt it needed. I never used to like spice, but my travels have somehow upped my spice threshold and I now quite like a bit of heat to certain food. The chilli oil really added to the depth of flavours in this dish and I really enjoyed my Pho experience in my hometown.
I debated on whether to go for a dessert or even an iced coffee with condensed milk, but the liquid in the broth had filled me up good and proper so I will have to save that for a more hungrier day.
I will definitely be paying Pho another visit very soon and work my way through the menu to find my favourite, but if my first visit is anything to go by it will be a tough challenge, but I am so up for it!