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  • 3 Great Titchfield Street
    London W1W 8AX
    Fitzrovia
  • Transit information Bakerloo Central Jubilee Northern Victoria Get Directions
  • Phone number 020 7436 0111
  • Message the business
  • Business website phocafe.co.uk
  • “These were fresh and delicious and similar to the ones I'd just eaten in Vietnam.” in 7 reviews

  • “However, that is exactly what husband and wife team, Stephen and Juliette Wall have done.” in 3 reviews

  • “We kicked off with starters such as salads (goi), summer rolls (goi cuon), spring rolls (cha gio), and grilled pork & lemongrass meatballs (nem nuong).” in 3 reviews

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  • 4.0 star rating
    19/4/2014
    1 check-in here

    This is a small branch of the Pho chain, located off Oxford street.  Not open on Sundays, so head for another branch if you got the thirst for a Pho.

    Serving tasty and reasonably priced Vietnamese food, as well as the traditional pho there are other dishes you can try; noodles, salad and rice dishes.  They also have a selection of tasty starters to chose from particularly Ch giò, which is crispy fried spring rolls.

    The service is quick so it's a great place to pop in for a quick bite if your on Oxford Street shopping.  They also offer Pho to go so you could eat it in a nearby park if it was a nice day.

  • 3.0 star rating
    4/7/2014

    And we went to our fourth branch of Pho last week!  Never been to the same one twice.  We love it so.  This one is pretty small and I bet it gets busy for weekday lunch, but it wasn't hard to get a table after 2 pm.  Service was very quick too - gets you in and out in a pinch if that's what you want.

    Mom and I split a yummy fresh juice, then I got the spicy prawn pho (Bun Tom Hue) which I liked, but not as much as getting a regular pho and then adding spice to it myself.  I shall remember that for next time - the broth just tasted different.  I was a little disappointed about that.  Still - juicy prawns, abundant noodles, all the good stuff.  The plate of add-ins (basil, mint, bean sprouts) seemed a bit smaller than usual.  Everyone else loved their pho so I know I just need to not get that kind again.  Oh and if you're adding the little red chiles to your broth, do so at your peril - they are HOT.  I also got some of the sugar snaps and green beans with peanut sauce again, because they are so delicious.  Crisp-tender with delicious sweet peanutty sauce, and then you can pretend to be healthy and have a vegetable.  Actually I don't think pho is unhealthy at all, so I don't know what I'm talking about.

    Had to give 3 stars since my pho wasn't as good as I've had at other locations, but I know if I ordered something different, I'd have loved it!  Next time, I will - though knowing us, instead of returning we will probably just go to a FIFTH location!

  • 3.0 star rating
    21/4/2014
    1 check-in here

    Seemed oddly over staffed that night but we were eating a little early for a friday night so...yeah.

    The last place I lived, Oakland California USA, was all about the Pho. The quality of the pho was alright here but it was the plate of bits that seemed lacking. You know, all those toppings you can DIY your pho with, coriander and basil and mint and chilies and lime and and and. (this seems to be a trend in the pho places Ive been to though)

    They had the sides but in a miniscule amount. So sad as it can enhance your pho so much while making you feel like you're getting a great deal for this huge mound of really mostly veg and herbs and sriracha...mmm cock sauce.

    Not usually in this area but if I come back I'll just remember to ask for two plates of toppings, if they'll allow it.

  • 4.0 star rating
    5/3/2014
    1 check-in here

    The location of this Pho restaurant is really great. Just enough off the main streets to be quiet, but close enough that it's an easy place to get to if you're out shopping on Oxford Street or maybe headed to the British Museum.

    Delicious food (as per usual, I went for the pho ga -{chicken pho}), great service, and a relaxed atmosphere on a weekday mid-afternoon.

  • 1.0 star rating
    4/3/2014

    Ohhh sadly Pho Cafe disappointed me. It really is one star quality. The broth was salty and lacking depth. The noodles was dry while the there were literally 6 small pieces of almost bone dry meat (Brisket) measuring 2x2 inches. What in the world!? Oh did I mention that they gave us very old looking- turning brown 6 mint and basil leaves? What a sad story especially when you are sick and looking forward to a solid Pho.

    NEVER Again!

  • 4.0 star rating
    18/2/2014
    Listed in Vietnamese Fare

    The Great Titchfield Street location is the greatest plus point of this restaurant of the Pho franchise. On the unfortunate occasion that I am forced to wade through the mobs on Oxford Street, I can now add this one to my list of oases. It even has a to-go option.

    The interiors are modern and the bright colours give it a trendy look. Split over two levels, I've never had trouble finding a table in this restaurant, during moderately busy hours.

    The menu is well designed, not unusually creative, but everything tastes good. The noodle soups are bursting with fresh flavours, although they could do with a little more meat in them. :-) The steak, brisket and meatball Pho is a good option if you are always meat starved, one of my favourites.

    The fact that this is a medium sized chain, also adds to the quality of service, and allows some room for discounts to be passed on to customers. So, a good bargain for the quality and an above average experience, overall.

  • 2.0 star rating
    2/4/2014

    Dull, insipid soup. Gristly steak. Warm coke. Second time I've been to a pho and I won't be returning. On the other hand, service was fine, but I was eating a late lunch at 3.30pm. Another chain off my list.

  • 4.0 star rating
    8/10/2013
    2 check-ins here

    I'm honestly a fan of this place.

    I find it interesting that the British call it "fo" instead of the proper pronunciation of "fuh." All good with me as long as it tastes damned good! I come from Northern California, and we NorCal peeps love our pho. If there isn't a pho restaurant around, you have pho-king crazed people looking for their pho fix.

    I lived 20 minutes from San Jose, which is PHO central! No really, no joke. It's pho-king amazing. We also have a restaurant called Pho Kim Long. Just wrap your head around that and chuckle for a few minutes.

    Okay, okay enough with the pho-king jokes, i get it! ;)

    I have to say that the noodles were mediocre, but the BROTH was good! I loved the abundant garnishes and sauces that made me feel quite homely. Our spring roll was divine. So good! Husband got a fried one while I had a rice wrapped one. Both were absolutely delicious. He had the pho combination while I had mine with perfect beef slices.

    Just so damned good. We also went right when they opened on a Saturday, so there was no line, no crowd, just a few tables taken. BLISS. Will return!

  • 4.0 star rating
    4/11/2013
    1 check-in here

    Yum! Loved the pho and loved the service.

    Spring rolls: They don't taste like vietnamese Spring rolls from the states. That being said they were quite fresh and worth the try.

    Chicken Pho: It's definitely has a more savory feel than the pho that I'm used to. Tastes more like ramen than pho, but I loved the fusion taste because I love ramen too :)

    Definitely worth a try :)

  • 4.0 star rating
    10/6/2013

    Dropped in here today for lunch ---

    I had the veggie fresh summer rolls, and the Asian Shredded Chicken Salad - both were so good I actually cleaned my plate - which is a total rarity!

    I definitely plan to return on a chilly day for Pho - but, on temperate or hot days, the rolls and salad are perfect!

  • 4.0 star rating
    23/11/2009
    ROTD 7/2/2010

    Pho ho ho. OK, fine. It is a while until Christmas, but I thought I would get that in. Last year, I was eating Pho off the street in Vietnam, this year to get my noodle kick, I eat it here. It's not exactly authentic, but then, it's not exactly far off either.

    I think the soup tastes remarkably similar to the ones I was eating my Pho with in Vietnam (it's all about the soup people!) and the garnishes are pretty much accurate too. Though there could be more of them. Note to Pho people... More leaves in the garnishes.

    I, too usually go for the beef noodles (think it's Pho tai), and the first time I went to a Pho (was admittedly in Westfields) it was amazing (the chefs were Vietnamese for sure) and this one near Oxford Circus is just convenient, really. The bun cha noodles (not sure if that's right) look amazing and it's on my list for next time, but also, the big plus is, there is no fat on my perfect beef slices.

    In Vietnam, you practically see the cow head bubbling alongside the meat in the soup, at least here, it's less of the visual and more of the slurping. Plus, there's a loyalty card. Gotta love those stamps!

  • 3.0 star rating
    29/1/2009
    First to Review
    Listed in ~~ Pho ~~

    If you come here at lunchtime you'll notice that West Enders are jumping aboard the Pho Train in droves. TOOT TOOT.... all aboard. Good luck getting a seat.

    It looks like the future of pho is rosy - I mean the eponymous noodle soup, rather than this cafe. Pho has risen from a cult following among ex-pat Vietnamese to the lastest must try meal across the USA. It was only a matter of time before it jumped the pond. And here it is in all its marketable glory... in a hip and sanded-down modern restaurant bustling with interesting people and novel dinnerware.

    The only thing to try for me was the pho, although other vietnamese and thai dishes are on offer and those wet behind the ears seem to plump for them. I liked the pho but didn't rate it too highly, it was somewhat... different, weaker and a tad tepid.

    And here's the crux of the problem for what is otherwise a great lunch option - it feels here like a Brit has decided Pho is the next big thing and gone and got some maybe Vietnamese chefs to drum up some recipes with what is buyable in London. It doesn't rate compared to the deep flavours of the established pho houses in the states. It's not on par. But strangely, neither was pho when I had it in Laos, Hanoi or at the much cheaper (and better) Vietnamese places on Kingsland Rd. It seems like the immigrants from Saigon to California are the real experts. If you want to really get your pho up to crack-cocaine addictiveness... hire one of those chefs.

    Ok, so far I resisted any pho-puns. But I have to do one.
    # Pho is the PhoTure.

    You can shoot me now.

  • 2.0 star rating
    27/6/2009

    I did just spend a month in Vietnam recently where pho was my staple diet, and i wasn't expecting the pho here to be as good, but i wasn't expecting it to be so bad.

    The summer rolls were unremarkable, and the mains took forever to come out - isn't this supposed to be a quick fix lunch spot? This would never happen in 'nam.

    The pho stock was tasteless, the chicken looked processed and there wasn't anywhere near enough chillies or decent chilli sauce to be seen!

    My hunt for the best pho outside of Vietnam continues...

  • 2.0 star rating
    18/3/2011

    It was my first time having pho, and I really don't like cliantro, so take that into consideration when reading my review!

    I picked up my soup for take away, waiting about 15 minutes to have it all put together for me. I wasn't sure what took so long, but no big deal - it was nice to get out of the office for awhile.

    When I opened it up, it became obvious what took so long - so many little things wrapped up in little packages.  All I could think of was, "oh my god, look at all this waste!"  Not a good way to start a meal, but I put that thought aside.

    Let me caution you against eating this soup by a computer - what a bad idea.  By the time I was finished - or should I say too tired or annoyed to eat anymore - my keyboard was glistening with a field of little oily droplets.  ewww...

    The food was okay in general.  There was an interesting spicy taste to the whole soup which I liked, but I couldn't consume in such large portions.  Plus, it was a little too salty in my opinion.  I seriously threw in the towel about halfway through my giant styrofoam cup of soup. Sorry environment.

  • 4.0 star rating
    15/7/2010

    I've been reading the reviews and I'm impressed by the number of Vietnamese food snobs there are out there!  It makes sense I guess, if you fancy Vietnamese then you go to a Vietnamese restaurant, and there is Pho.

    I've been meaning to go to this place for a while as I came across their website and was quite charmed by Pho's pilgrimage to London.  I am no expert on Vietnamese food nor have I been to Vietnam, so I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the pho or the noodles.

    What I can say is this.  The menu was itself a feast for the eyes, with plenty of healthy, delicious sounding dishes to choose from. I was spoilt for choice.  For the starter I had the Vietnamese crepe filled with prawns, chicken and beansprouts.  It was enormous and pretty yummy.  I would have ended my meal here had I known the portions! Having left my plate half full to leave room for the main, the waitress offered to box up my starter for me to take away. This I found charming. I took her up on her offer of course!

    Be shocked oh food snobs, I did not go for Pho as my main! Though many around me looked like they were enjoying their slurpy Pho.  I went for the Bun noodles with the lemongrass chicken, which surprisingly comes with lots of salad mixed in with it and a vegetable spring roll (winner).  It was not a taste explosion, but the vegetable spring roll was absolutely delish, none of that overfried stuff you get at Thai and Chinese places.  This one was a delight.  The main did not otherwise blow me away, but I came away feeling quite virtuous as it was super healthy and tasty enough (and yet another large portion).

    I was here for dinner and the restaurant was still full (as seems to be the case for the lunchtime crowd) and despite the queues at the door we did not feel rushed with our meal.  I'm quite sure I will be back as there are tons of things on the menu I still want to try, and the staff were lovely.  I think Pho could be the new Wagamamas.

    Enjoy

    x

  • 3.0 star rating
    4/8/2010
    Listed in My Fitzrovia

    After a quick lunchtime snack here, I agree with the average of previous ratings it's thoroughly a 2.5 star.

    Pork and Lemongrass Bun Noodles (in spicy) was nice, though one wonders quite how bland it would have been were the normal option selected. My companions seemed to feel equally satisfied but not overwhelmed by their mains of Beef Bun Noodles (also spicy) and Steak and Brisket Pho. Our waitress was new and quite sweet, if a little keen to take our order (even at lunchtime). I cannot say the same for the guy who appeared to be some kind of supervisor or manager, who on hearing our mention of potentially limited brisket in the Pho marched over to inform us in an unnecessarily authoritatively that we were mistaken, and that what appeared to be steak was actually brisket. This was totally unnecessary as it wasn't a complaint simply an answer to the waitresses innocent question about the brisket.

    This all makes me wonder how would he have behaved had we actually complained.

    Company present made this a 3 star but forsaking that I think this would probably have been a 2.

  • 2.0 star rating
    16/11/2011
    1 check-in here

    I wanted to like this place, I really did... I've just had so much better.

    I was disappointed in the meat and the noodles, although the broth was decent.  One out of three isn't that great though.  The best way I can describe this restaurant is that it's a chain, and obviously so.  It's like going to Subway and expecting a really good sandwich, it's just not going to happen.  Hopefully other pho restaurants will open up and take off so we aren't stuck with just this place in London (I'm sure there are more places out there, I just haven't had a chance to try them yet).

  • 1.0 star rating
    21/7/2010

    We came here early evening and the place was empty. In fact they really weren't that prepared for people to come in as there was no ice for drinks and some of the starters wouldn't be available until about 6.

    The menu looks good and we were instantly drawn to getting a couple of dishes of Bun noodles. Unfortunately, both of these were rendered pretty much inedible by the amount of salt added. We ordered them spicy but couldn't feel any heat from the chillies as our mouths were burning from the salt. It's a real shame because the dishes looked great and I bet without all the salt would have tasted great.

  • 3.0 star rating
    11/8/2010

    My brother and his girlfriend both love Pho. I've been to the branch in Westfield and as far as I can remember I wasn't too keen on it. So I gave it another go.

    As I am not a keen corriander eater, I asked it to be removed in my noodle dish which they kindly did that. To my surprise, the waitress came back out and asked if we want all our starters to be corriander free as well. I was thinking of what kind of a hassle the chef has to go through but the waitress insisted that it can be done.

    The dishes were great, better than the last time. It wasn't as good as the Vietnamese food I tried in Chicago though. I am still waiting for a good Vietnamese restaurant to try out.

  • 4.0 star rating
    28/3/2010

    I've always been a big fan of Pho, which is one of the few restaurants that always comes to my mind when friends ask me where we should go and eat. They are best, of course, for their pho noodles, which are authentically prepared and taste like the real deal, full of flavour. Among their noodles, go for their traditional beef pho, or their dry bun noodles. While their spicy noodles will thrill those who like a bit of chilli in their food, you will miss out on the clean flavours of the beef stock.

    For starters, my favourite are the prawn summer rolls, which come with a very addictive dipping sauce. In fact, I have often been tempted during my visits to Pho to just order several portions of the summer rolls and forgo a main course!

    Dessert-wise, the banana fritters with honey and ginger ice cream are heavenly.

    While you can get everything slightly cheaper and slightly more authentic in the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road, Pho is an extremely good choice if you're in central London or Westfield, as Kingsland Road is a bit in the middle of nowhere. Pho also do some excellent fruit juices, which go very well with their food.

    Reviewed by The London Insider
    london-insider.co.uk

    • Qype User deCabb…
    • London
    • 334 friends
    • 515 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    10/5/2009

    This is a lovely place to go for lunch. It's not busy until about 12:30 when it fills up and lots of people go through until 2pm when it empties again.

    This is a brilliant place for lunch as everything is tasty though it is a bit limited on the menu. You can get both hot or cold spring rolls to start, prawn crackers and more. The soup is great as are the chilled noodles.

    Highly recommend it!

    • Qype User marshc…
    • London
    • 26 friends
    • 79 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    2/1/2010

    Hiden away just aback from Oxford street, this is a good place to go if you can't face the hustle of Soho. There is limited items on the menu, but lots of varities of how they are served, so if you like noodles you'll be a happy bunny.

    The noodle soups are yummy, any they herbs and spices come on the side - but be warned too much chili and your mouth could very well be on fire.

    Reasonably priced and friendly staff.

  • 5.0 star rating
    6/4/2010

    Qype recently threw a friendly little food blogger get together at Pho, Great Titchfield Street's friendly neighbourhood Vietnamese soup shack (and a stylish and popular shack at that!). Here's more about that event:
    london.blog.qype.com/201…

    I'd never been to this location but have long been a fan of Pho's St John Street restaurant. In fact, I go there all the time and have found it to be one of the most consistently enjoyable restaurants in Clerkenwell. So, I was happy to see (and to taste!) that this more centrally situated venue lives up to the same high standards.

  • 3.0 star rating
    21/3/2009

    A really quick and easy place for a delicious lunch. Vietnamese cusine made easy for Londoners - simple choices of both style - soups, noodles and ingredients - lemongrass chicken, lemongrass beef, ginger etc.

    I went for the lemongrass beef in soup. Tasted very fresh, and just the right balance of soup, noodles, beef etc. Sort of 3 meals in one and at a great price.

    • Qype User thelon…
    • London
    • 49 friends
    • 73 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    6/4/2010

    Pho Café - Pics at The London Foodie
    (thelondonfoodie.co.uk )

    After my recent visit to Vietnam, where I consumed copious amounts of Pho and other delicious local dishes, I was thrilled to be invited by the gorgeous Rachelle of Qype to visit Pho Café in London's Great Titchfield Street.

    I was also intrigued by this invitation as, in London, I admit never venturing outside Kingsland Road for my regular fix of Vietnam's national dish.

    Pho Café is one of those restaurants I was ready to dislike. Owned by an English couple and with three branches in London (Clerkenwell, Oxford Circus and Westfield), the cafes have a trendy decor and cater for a mostly Western clientele  I feared it would lack authenticity.

    Having dreamt about opening my own restaurant for the last 20 years, I feel inspired whenever I meet people like Stephen and Juliette Wall. They were clearly passionate about Vietnamese cooking and the quality of the food served at their restaurants. They gave a touching account of their trials and tribulations starting Pho 5 years ago (and getting married in the process).

    We were then shown how to prepare goi cuon tom (fresh rice paper rolls filled with vermicelli noodles, prawns, salad and herbs) by one of their chefs (all their kitchen staff are Vietnamese).

    These were fresh and delicious and similar to the ones I'd just eaten in Vietnam. At £3.75, I felt that they were also well priced.

    This was followed by two other delicious starters/sides  Cha Gio  fried pork spring rolls £3.95 and Nem nuong  grilled pork and lemongrass meatballs £4.50.

    These are the simplest of starters, but good quality versions are very hard to find, hence I never order them in Vietnamese restaurants in London. Pho's versions were delicious, fresh and obviously made on the premises.

    We were also served Goi du du  a salad of shredded green papaya with prawns and herbs topped with peanuts @ £5.95. Again the most popular of Vietnamese salads, this was a perfect example of Goi Du Du - very aromatic and ultra fresh.

    The Goi ga  chicken salad with peppers, mixed herbs with chilli and ginger dressing @ £5.45 was also excellent. I loved the combination of shredded chicken, peppers and finely sliced shallots, with the chilli and ginger dressing giving it a zingy lift.

    Juliette took us to visit the kitchen where we saw their large vat of pho stock simmering away. It looked fantastic, and the kitchen was filled with the most delicious aromas of beef, star anise, cinnamon and other spices.

    I had a lot of trouble deciding which of their 11 different types of Pho I would have, but opted for Pho bo dac biet  rice noodle soup with steak, brisket and meatballs served with fresh herbs @ £7.95. This was much anticipated, and I have to admit it was extremely good. The stock was concentrated but still with a sophisticated flavour  the meats were also delicious, as were the noodles which had been cooked perfectly.

    For dessert, I had a Chuoi Chien  banana fritters with honey and ginger ice cream @ £4. I loved the flavours of this dessert  the deep fried bananas were covered with a deliciously crispy batter and went very well with the honey and ginger ice cream.

    In Vietnam, beer is traditionally drunk with food at restaurants and on special occasions. Pho serves all major Vietnamese beers like Halida, Hue and Saigon for £3.25 as well as Beer Laos at £3.45.

    I was also impressed by how well priced their wine list is. Bottles start at £13.95 for a delicious French Viognier (which I tasted) and go up to £16.25 for an Australian Riesling or £17.95 for a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. I find that for Oriental food in general, Gewürztraminer, Viognier and Riesling are nearly always the best matches.

    Stephen and Juliette have made Vietnamese food accessible to Londoners  there are no plastic lobsters hanging on the walls, the menus are well explained, and the serving staff are friendly and articulate. In May, they will be opening a branch in Brighton, and another in Soho is also scheduled to open later in 2010.

    Cost: this was a complementary meal, but I have quoted the prices of all the dishes I tried. I estimate that a meal for one would cost in the region of £15 including a starter, pho and dessert but excluding drinks.

    Likes: probably the most delicious bowl of pho outside the 'pho mile' (Kingsland Road or thereabouts), excellent value for money and fantastic banana fritter with honey and ginger ice cream. The wine list is also well priced and includes some attractive choices.

    Dislikes: despite the simple but well thought out menu (40 items only), I missed some old favourites like chargrilled beef and lemongrass wrapped in betel leaves and fried soft shell crab.

    Verdict: Simple but well executed menu just off Oxford Street at very affordable prices. An excellent choice for Vietnamese food outside Kingsland Road. Recommended.

    • Qype User Global…
    • London
    • 11 friends
    • 143 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    23/9/2010

    Really friendly genuine service, really good food and brilliant value.

    Very trendy fashionable young clientelle but still accessible to a more mature crowd.

    I really enjoyed my visit and will go back with friends soon

  • 4.0 star rating
    29/11/2010

    I loved it... Amazing food it's almost like Thai but lighter... My colleague and her bf love this place and they were good at convincing us to go too...
    We first went to the one at soho, but it was packed and they asked to wait for 45mins so we walked to this one, and I was relieved to see empty spaces. We went for dinner on Friday night and I had a spicy chicken noodle soup... With pho noodles... It was amazing I could not finish it all. But I'm going to go there again, with my other friends.. Just what you need in this winter... Hot and spicy soup...yummy

    • Qype User ellieb…
    • London
    • 15 friends
    • 11 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    12/5/2009

    This was a refreshing change to my usual Itsu soup, which is slightly over priced, but here at Pho you can actually sit down, wow, and you get herbs and spices on the side, so that you can add extra taste to your chosen dish. I went for the steak meatball noodle soup, which was really nice. Bit too much soup, and not enough meatballs, but that may just be me being greedy and the steak balls were realyl tatsy.

    Was fine for a short, healthy lunch to catch up with a friend.

    • Qype User lizwhi…
    • London
    • 12 friends
    • 19 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    4/3/2010

    I Love Pho. It's great to meet friends for a quick bite during shopping, after work or for lunch. The bowls of noodles are huge - and I love the fact you can add your own herbs to your taste.

    The spicy noodles will leave your mouth tingling for about an hour afterwards. The cold noodles (Bun) are also pretty good if you're like me and tend to throw hot soup all over you as you eat it.

    They do provide bibs. A must if you're getting a spicy dish as the red sauce will stain like a bugger.

    Try them for a take-away too...it's hard to eat at your desk without getting your screen dirty but you can give it a try!

    • Qype User eatlov…
    • London
    • 11 friends
    • 60 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    29/3/2010

    Full disclosure. Miss Rachelle from Qype invited me to this bloggers' event for which I received free food and drink over the course of the evening. Such a get-together is never going to replicate the experience of being a paying customer so please read on with that in mind.

    Pho has three London branches, Clerkenwell (the original), Westfield Shopping Centre, and Oxford Circus, where this event was held. Further branches in Brighton and Soho will open later this year. I hadn't been here before as I was a bit sceptical about what on the face of it seemed to be a high street chain cashing in on the trend for Vietnamese food.

    Not for the first time, my preconceptions were a bit off the mark, as Pho isn't run by some faceless corporate behemoth but by a couple. Stephen and Juliette Wall gave up the drudgery of the nine-to-five to follow their dream of opening a café inspired by their travels in Vietnam. For those of you staring at the elephant in the room, they've hired Vietnamese kitchen crews to do the actual cooking.

    Truth is, you'd have to be made of stone not to be inspired by their story or to warm to their enthusiasm. The other thing I have to mention is that like me, Stephen is from the North West of England, where we're renowned for our intelligence, keen sense of humour, and generous spirit. Not to mention our modest self-deprecating manner.

    Now heartwarming tales about living the dream are all well and good but what about the food? A quick look at the menu is encouraging as it's pretty much 100% Vietnamese with no faddy interpretations of classic dishes. We kicked off with starters such as salads (goi), summer rolls (goi cuon), spring rolls (cha gio), and grilled pork & lemongrass meatballs (nem nuong). But before we tucked in, we had a stab at making one of my favourites, summer rolls. Thankfully, my effort tasted better than it looked!

    I can't get over excited about salad and spring rolls but both were freshly made and clean tasting. However, I did find the nem nuong meatballs incredibly moreish with the lemongrass giving a contrast in both taste and texture to the pork.

    In between starters and mains, we had a quick tour of the kitchen where the highlight was a giant vat of beef stock. When the lid was lifted, the kitchen was filled with a beefy aroma infused with star anise.

    As Pho specialises in pho, I had to go for pho noodles with beef stock, steak, brisket and meatballs (pho bo dac biet). Now, I may have had my expectations raised by the giant vat of stock but I thought the soup lacked a bit of oomph. It wasn't quite as beefy as the pho from Song Que (my favourite Vietnamese in London) and I added more chillies than I normally would. Of the three types of beef, the brisket was my favourite with its melt in the mouth texture. I also liked the meatballs and whilst there was nothing wrong with the steak, I'd probably give it a miss if I came here again.

    I also adore bun dishes so in the interest of research, I sampled some cold rice vermicelli topped with salad, herbs, spring roll, peanuts and lemongrass chicken (bun cha gio ga). This was served with nuoc cham, a spicy fish sauce based dressing and it was a decent bowl of bun. A minor gripe was that there weren't enough noodles but this was a sample bowl and I'm sure you'd get more in a normal sized bowl. By the way, their normal sized bowl is quite large  perhaps this is Stephen's influence, as Northerners don't really do small portions.

    After more than my fair share of starters, two bowls of noodles and several beers came dessert. I plumped for a refreshing strawberry and fresh basil sorbet. Others went for banana fritters - which I had nibble on - to round off the meal. I'm not really a dessert man but these were all fine.

    All in all, it was a top night out and it was good to meet other bloggers, many for the first time. Our hosts were charming and convivial as were the PR peeps. But one question remains  would I come back here as a paying customer?

    Well I wouldn't describe Pho as a destination for Vietnamese cuisine as that's obviously the 'Pho Mile', which is located in that part of town where Shoreditch becomes Hoxton. That said if I was out and about around Oxford Circus then I'd happily pop in here for a bowl of noodles.

    eatlovenoodles.blogspot.…

    • Qype User greedy…
    • London
    • 17 friends
    • 69 reviews
    3.0 star rating
    28/4/2010

    For photos see Greedy Diva @ greedydiva.blogspot.com/…

    The last time I visited South East Asia, I left with a salty mane of plaited hair, a battered back pack and a tan which blended beautifully into my dirt brown bathers (quite a feat considering my natural moon tan). I did not leave with the entrepreneurial inclination to set up my own mini chain of London restaurants replicating my favourite highlights of the local cuisine. Most likely, I was too busy trying to untangle my hair before the cameras came out - complete nightmare.

    However, that is exactly what husband and wife team, Stephen and Juliette Wall have done. Having travelled around South East Asia and fallen in love the pho soups (pronounced "feu"), they ditched their office jobs 5 years ago and set up Pho (pronounced "fow", in a kind of oh-for-Goddsakes-I-give-up concession to the locals).

    The first Pho restaurant opened on St John Street in Clerkenwell in 2005 and since then they have multiplied like cheeky gizmos into branches in Great Titchfield Street and Westfield Shopping Centre. In May, the new Brighton branch is due to open, and a new site in Soho has just been purchased.

    Coming from Australia, a country abound in fresh, flavourful, colourful Vietnamese fare, TPG and I have found it quite an ordeal to find decent Vietnamese food in London outside of Kingsland Road. Fresh and zesty, Vietnamese food should be packed with the full range of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet flavours. To date, Cay Tre is a favourite.

    However, it was on our maiden voyage to Westfield last year that we first discovered Pho, and were pleasantly surprised to find such a gorgeous bowl of noodle soup in a shopping centre food court. Since then, our experiences at the Great Titchfield Street restaurant have been more mixed as we found the flavours sometimes lacked the punch of our first experience depending on our order. Therefore, I happily accepted an invitation to visit Pho with some other bloggers last week, to learn more about the business first hand.

    It's too easy to accuse a chain restaurant, and particularly a Vietnamese chain being run by non-Vietnamese people, of being bland and inauthentic. The husband and wife team at Pho have employed a full team of Vietnamese cooks, have done their utmost to remain true to the fresh Vietnamese flavours of their travels and have kept to simple menu focussed mainly on what they do best - the pho.

    A pho is a serious business, afteall, and is not to be treated lightly. Taking on the status of a revered national dish in Vietnam, it's basically a noodle soup containing chicken, beef, pork, tofu or prawns, eaten at all times of day in its natural habitat - often on a plastic chair at the side of a street cart. The pho stocks at Pho are prepared from scratch on site, and take up to 12 hours to prepare, simmering away alluringly in large vats in the kitchen.

    We started with a lesson demonstrating how to make our own goi cuon tom (fresh rice paper rolls filled with prawns, salad and herbs). Some call them "summer rolls" but, to the Aussie girl in me, a Summer Roll will always involve chocolate, peanuts, coconut and nougat (highly recommended, by the way).

    Platters of fried spring rolls followed, filled with pork (a favourite) or veggies, as well as nem nuong (pork and lemongrass meatballs - I somehow missed these) and ginormous bursting platters of goi du du (papaya salads alternatively containing chicken or prawns). Papaya salad or a Vietnamese chicken salad is always an essential when I visit any Vietnamese restaurant, and Pho's versions were lovely, refreshing and tasty, although I prefer slightly more of a chilli hit (I'm sure you could ask for it).

    Having spied the sensational looking beef stock brewing away in the kitchen, my bowl of the pho bo dac biet did not disappoint (noodle soup with steak, brisket and meatballs - the beefy trifecta - why limit yourself to 1 style of beef?). As always, it was served with a side of herbs, lime and chilli to be added to taste. The flavours were subtle but lovely, and as always, I find pho to leave me feeling healthy and replenished. Serving sizes are satisfyingly generous - particularly given they fall within a £6.95 - £7.95 price range.

    Hot and spicy soups and noodle dishes are also on offer, but save room for the banana fritter with honey and ginger ice-cream - oh my. I'm sure there was a bit of "I'll have what she's having" going on as I enthusiastically enjoyed mine.

    I rate Pho as a terrific option for a healthy, tasty and fulfilling meal, particularly if you love Vietnamese food as much as I do, and particularly if you find yourself on the other side of town to the strip of Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road. It's definitely the best option I've found around the West End for Vietnamese food. And having met the passionate duo behind the business, Pho now has a face - and I like it even more than

    • Qype User celgen…
    • London
    • 4 friends
    • 17 reviews
    4.0 star rating
    15/11/2010

    I went to Pho on a Thursday night and was pleasantly surprised by the speed of service and the food.
    We tried the meet ball Pho soup which was delicious and really spicy (probably because I put in all the chillis I was given on the plate), the chicken curry and one one of the Pho Xao and loved everything.
    I guess it would be a lovely place to come for lunch if I worked in the area as it is quick, good and at good price!

  • 3.0 star rating
    10/2/2010

    ok ok arrived at this place at lunch hungary as a hippo and it was too packed out. went for a walk came back at 2pm when there were some seats visibly available through the window.

    The service was damn slow i dunno if it was the busy lunch hour that got their energy levels sapped. I had my order taken promptly and the food arrived quickly. After though i was left to my own vices and no eye contact was even attempted by the staff so i couldnt even wave them over to let me pay and get out.

    the food was quite satisfying tho, careful of the chopped chillies man they will blow your head off, i had to recover for at least 10mins after trying one.

  • 3.0 star rating
    9/1/2010
    Listed in Top Restaurants

    I am a pho-natic, and this place is my methadone equivalent for the fix. Due to its proximity with my school, I am here regularly. I have never been to Vietnam, but have lived in Vietnamese communities in the USA and pho is traditionally working class cuisine, in that its meant to be cheap and plenty of it. You'll be throwing down at least 10 pounds for a bowl, which is simply unheard of, like an American paying for a $25 burger. Also, the beef is not served raw to cook in the broth, but served cooked and in thick pieces. At the end of the day, the broth is well seasoned, the ingredients fresh, which makes for an overall satisfying meal...despite its lack of authenticity.

  • 2.0 star rating
    4/5/2013

    Sorry it is just not that good.

  • 2.0 star rating
    2/10/2011

    I've decided to give this chain a 2nd try.  First time was at Westfield and thought the Pho was... probably the worst I've ever had.  This time I had the Bun - lemongrass chicken - I realized the problem was the bland fish sauce - where I had to ask for more (which they were happy to do) but it ended up being nearly soup noodles.  The summer rolls were okay... the peanut sauce was also a bit tasteless.  And last complaint, the viet ice coffee... the weakest I've ever had.  This place earned a 2 because it's not absolutely horrible... Sorry... I think I've just been spoiled by really good Viet food.

  • 4.0 star rating
    26/12/2012
    1 check-in here

    For my experience in London, this is pretty tasty Vietnamese food.  While there is hipster flare, the food it quite good.  I do live in Los Angeles where there is alot of authentic Vietnamese, this is good quality with modern surroundings.

  • 4.0 star rating
    25/4/2010

    grummblinggourmet.com

    Ideal for a local lunch

    (very) local to me, lovely staff, simple menu and as authentic as you need for a healthy satisfying bowl of bun noodle soup!

  • 4.0 star rating
    16/3/2012
    2 check-ins here

    I had a take away vegetarian soup, if you don't mind making the soup yourself then you should try it out.  The take out line was quite long and I had to wait about 20 minutes.  All the ingredients tasted fresh and it was a healthy lunch.  I thought the starters were a little over priced, but other than that, It tasted good, not as great as Wagamama soup, but still yum.

  • 2.0 star rating
    13/7/2010

    Came to for lunch (take-out).  The service was slow and we waited a while despite ordering in advance.  Didn't really mind that but I just didn't the pho was that good.  It's all about the broth and I though their was a little bland.

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