Pho, Leicester

Pho, Leicester

I cast my mind back to the opening of Pho in Leicester. A queue stretched as far back as the high street from Shires Lane with expectant diners eagerly anticipating free pho for the opening day. Since then, Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’ or ‘faaah’ if you’re Keith Floyd) has been busy near enough every time we have passed it.

Pho, Leicester

So, the time came to try it out. After enjoying a screening of the latest Halloween movie at the nearby Showcase Cinema De Lux, we dropped by to try the Pho experience and discuss whether or not Michael Myers really was dead this time around.  

Pho, Leicester Pho, Leicester

The restaurant was busy on a Sunday night, always a good sign. The staff were friendly and busily going about their jobs as bowls of noodles passed us by on the way to our table. The menu is a double sided read featuring food on the front and drinks on the back. Very simple.

Pho, Leicester

Note also the condiments on the table – a bottle of fish sauce, a bottle of spicy sriracha sauce, a small container of garlic and chilli vinegar and completing the set, a bowl of chilli oil. These are designed to allow the diner to alter the taste of their meal, particularly when ordering any of the soup dishes.

Pho, Leicester
Pho, Leicester

We went for the Pho Bo Combo at £9.95 and a Pho Chin at £9.25. Both bowls contained brisket with the combo adding in sliced steak and meatballs. Along with the soups we ordered up a couple of cocktails – a Phojito, a play on the classic Mojito, at £7.25 and a Ha Noi Mule at the same price.

Pho, Leicester Pho, Leicester

One of my slight irks in a restaurant is the food arriving before the drinks, as was the case here. The food did however look tantalising to the tastebuds and the aromas coming from the bowl were certainly inviting.

 

As the friendly waiter explained the process of eating the Pho, by using the garnishes and the fresh herbs on the side to switch the flavour to your liking, the drinks arrived just moments after he left.

Pho, Leicester

Pho, LeicesterThe selection of garnishes is relatively decent – basil leaves, bean sprouts, coriander and thai chilli are all present along with a wedge of lime. Interestingly there’s the notable absence of hoisin sauce which for me is a key player when it comes to Pho, although on reflection it’s listed on the menu ‘by request’ in very small writing.

Pho, Leicester

Digging into the bowl is like a lucky dip – you just have no idea what your chopsticks are likely to drag up. Meatballs in the combo provided a succulent burst of flavour along with the soft pull apart brisket pieces, sadly there weren’t a great deal of them. The steak slices were wafer thin pieces of meat, again only a few in the bowl.

 

Pho pride themselves on healthy food, which this most definitely is. Every spoon of the broth seemed to come up green with either herbs, spring onions or both. The broth itself is alright but does benefit from a good whack of sour from either vinegar or lime plus a shot of fish sauce every now and again.

Pho, Leicester

As we sipped on our cocktails the realisation sunk in that these weren’t particularly good. My Mule looked like it had begun life as a smoothie – a rather poorly mixed smoothie. The alcohol and lime had separated meaning any trace of the ginger or apple was lost.

 

The Phojito fared slightly better but the glass was packed with ice meaning the actual content of drink that you get for £7.25 isn’t actually all that much. A real disappointment. Still, we were having fun accessorising our soup and trying to hold a grip on those slippery noodles with our chopsticks.

Pho, Leicester

We decided to get the bill and head off into the night. The staff did ask if everything was alright which was good of them. The final total, which will be no surprise if you have kept up with the maths in this article, came out at £33.70….that’s two bowls of soup and two cocktails – Are you Pho real?

 

For me, it was a disappointment. Pho originated in Clerkenwell, London and that’s where I believe that their prices still remain. £33.70 is a heck of a lot of money for what we received. I had no issue with the actual flavours but more the contents of the meal itself, does it justify the price tag? Not for me.

Pho, Leicester

Pho is a popular chain sweeping the UK and has the appeal of genuine Vietnamese street food to many. I did feel that it was a conveyor belt at times, it’s not the kind of place to linger over the delights of The Orient. The background music is pumping and the surrounding conversation is also loud for the most part.

Pho, Leicester

Overall, it’s a no to Pho from me. Far greater Asian cuisine exists in both Leicester and The Midlands at a far better price point. Its one to tick off the list but for me, I can’t quite fathom the popularity of Pho in Leicester. Maybe it’s just not Pho me…

 

Website: www.phocafe.co.uk

 

Opening Times: Sunday – Wednesday 1130-2200

                         Thursday – Saturday 1130-2230

 

Nearest Train Station: Leicester

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22 Comments

  1. October 24, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Love Vietnamese and Thai food. In the US, especially New York City, the restaurants are everywhere. Althought I’d rather have their version of a drink – the possibilities of them making something familiar maybe higher than not. lol

    • Chris
      Author
      October 24, 2018 / 6:26 pm

      I really want to try Momofuku in New York City, its more of a blend of Korean and Japanese flavours but it looks so good! The drinks weren’t great to be honest but I’m sure that the authentic versions are superb.

  2. October 25, 2018 / 11:01 am

    This looks and sounds absolutely delicious!!

    • Chris
      Author
      October 25, 2018 / 8:41 pm

      In terms of flavour, it was alright, in terms of value – nowhere close.

  3. October 25, 2018 / 8:43 pm

    I have never been to a Vietnamese restaurant before. We seem to have these ‘fad’ type restaurants appearing in Manchester which everyone flocks to but actually aren’t all that great.

    • Chris
      Author
      October 25, 2018 / 8:46 pm

      Yeah, it was a bit disappointing to be honest. I would much rather head to Cafe Coco Tang in Nottingham – authentic food at a good price.

  4. October 25, 2018 / 9:10 pm

    I love Pho! But I guess it’s not for everyone. Hope you will give it another try though. Some restaurants use a lot of msg and it ruins the flavour a bit.

    • Chris
      Author
      October 25, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      I’m a fan of Pho also but sadly not from here.

  5. karen
    October 26, 2018 / 12:02 am

    can you believe i have never tried pho , but now that i’ve read about it i am inspired to try becuase it looks so good
    love always
    KAREN

    • Chris
      Author
      October 26, 2018 / 10:47 pm

      I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Atowle
    October 26, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Yikes, those drinks! But the soup didn’t look that bad! Atowle

    • Chris
      Author
      October 26, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      Yeah the soup wasn’t all bad but the drinks were a let down – shame really but I still love Vietnamese food!

  7. October 26, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    Great detailed review. I’ve never heard of it before.. the food and the drinks certainly look pretty good, it’s a shame it wasn’t all that though! Loved all your ‘pho’ references haha!

    Chloe x

    • Chris
      Author
      October 26, 2018 / 10:51 pm

      Thanks haha that’s all pho now though…

  8. October 27, 2018 / 2:25 pm

    When I was living in Seattle is was super easy to find a Pho restaurant to eat at and they we all delicious. I would agree that the price point in your review was pretty high. My whole reason for even trying Pho in the first place was because I was a broke student and the price was right.

    • Chris
      Author
      October 28, 2018 / 1:44 pm

      Wow, Seattle? That place looks beautiful. Pho, I agree, should be quite a cheap meal but because this was a chain place maybe that’s why the price was a little too high. Thanks so much for your comment!

  9. October 28, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    It’s always disappointing when there’s such a high price tag on meals! I recently found a hidden gem of a Japanese restaurant in my town – it’s small and family run, pretty cheap, and delivers fresh, healthy and delicious meals. Sometimes I wonder if it’s when it becomes a cheap restaurant that the quality takes a dip and the prices take a hike, as my experiences with independent restaurants have always been great!

    • Chris
      Author
      October 28, 2018 / 11:42 pm

      Hi Rhianna, I guess it’s like any business that becomes massively popular, supply and demand dictate an increase in price – it’s a shame when the quality suffers though.

  10. October 28, 2018 / 9:51 pm

    I love pho but having had it at street prices in Vietnam not sure I could pay these prices! Especially if it didn’t taste authentic either 😔

    • Chris
      Author
      October 28, 2018 / 11:43 pm

      Hi Jo, the authenticity was definitely questionable, far away from an independent street stall sadly. I’m looking forward to continuing the search for authentic pho on my travels though.

  11. October 28, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    certainly not worth the money. That mule looked awful and the mojito very average. When you pay good money you expect a return. Loved your puns throughout the piece.

    • Chris
      Author
      October 28, 2018 / 11:45 pm

      Why thank you John, the puns were a joy to write, I even started laughing to myself pho real…haha anyway yes the drinks were a big let down and I’ll be looking elsewhere for my Vietnamese fix, the search is half the fun though.

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