Pho Street is a Vietnamese restaurant that makes you feel good as soon as you walk in and see the blocks of bright colours, smiling staff in sloganned T-shirts, an array of fresh salads, and a selection of cooked meats all ready to go into the bao (steamed buns). Me and Mum took that feel-good factor and found a table in the far corner, writes Michael Holland…
John, a young Vietnamese man, with a proper SE London accent, introduced himself and answered a few questions for us, just before a colleague came over with two Hanoi beers and excitedly told us all about the Bubble Tea and stressed that we must have the Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup).
The starters looked good and from the list we chose Vietnamese spring rolls and salt and pepper king prawns. The spring rolls had a crispy lattice-work outer that housed a pork, prawn and herb inner, and were very good in both texture and taste. I asked John about the pastry and he said it was a secret recipe. Damn! While we were in discussion Mum took the biggest prawns and the lion’s share of the sliced chilli dressing! Damn again!
Moving on to the next course we took John’s advice and had the roast duck bao. I’ve heard about these traditional buns but this was the first time of trying them. I was totally amazed at how good they are. The hot meat is placed in the bun with fresh salad and a little sauce, just like a normal sandwich, but it is the bun itself that I loved. It feels strangely like putty but is perfect for the job and I’m already looking forward to my next one.
We also had the meat special dish where duck, BBQ pork and crispy pork is served with rice and vegetables and was very nice. The veg was steamed, very colourful and pleasing to the eye. Between mouthfuls we were both very complimentary about Pho Street and agreed we were now full and ready to try the Vietnamese Coffee and Bubble Tea to finish a rather nice lunchtime feast.
But no, our server came over to say we must have the Pho: it’s traditional, the restaurant is named after Pho, it’s what every Vietnamese person in the place was lunching on. She was right. “We’re full,” I implored, putting on my sad face and rubbing my belly as if in pain. “I’ll have it next time… Tell me about the Bubble Tea.” We then got an explanation of these tapioca-based drinks that come in many flavours and hues.
But then John turned up saying he was going to bring us small bowls of Pho Ga (chicken). It was now an offer we couldn’t refuse; it felt rude to. Very quickly a huge bowl of Pho arrived with small bowls for us to decant the broth and noodles in to. It was delicious. It came with fresh herbs, lemon and chili to make a hot and sour soup, and I eventually decanted three small bowls for myself from that big bowl. Mum had a good go too. That was it then. We really were stuffed.
The Bubble Tea was an odd thing but the Vietnamese coffee was excellent; sweet and creamy like a latte with a vanilla shot.
For us Pho Street was a warm and welcoming winner. The food, authentic and cooked by Vietnamese chefs, looks good and tastes good. The staff are friendly and on the ball. What else do you want?
17 King William Walk
Phone: 0208 858 6956
Open daily 11.30am – 10pm