Fresh, light and filling? Hell’s yeah! This place knows how to cook up a real treat.
As we walked up to Pho café/restaurant in Covent Garden; we peered through the window at what looked like a dimly lit café, with high stalls around the window, and large benches to accommodate big groups. The décor was a modern street style theme. A diverse mix of people enjoying the food, as you would expect in London, with two students connecting to the free Wi-Fi on their Macs, to a group of Chinese tourists getting stuck in, and a gentle buzz of activity in the air.
Not gonna lie I was STARVING! First things first; the starters. Muc Chien Goin -translation- tender fried baby squid. This was beautiful; I mean really. It’s coated in a light batter, not greasy or heavy, light tender
and delicate. It comes with a dipping sauce whereby we were instructed to squeeze a lime into a mix of salt and pepper and give it a good mix, and then dip away. This is very zingy on the tongue.
Second starter was the Nem Hai San- translation- Large spring roll of tiger prawn, crab and pork. This is not like any spring roll I’ve had before, it’s packed full of this seafood/meat concoction and fried, then you rap all this into a lettuce leaf with some fresh mint and dunk it into a sweet and sour style dipping sauce. My mouth was telling me, that this feels so naughty but yet so nice. It was delicious, especially if you like something really meaty and hearty this is a good choice
Also thought I better try a salad. Now I’m not really a salad type of girl. Don’t get me wrong I like my veg, but salad can often be a little bit blah. Not in Vietnam apparently, it turned out to be one of my faves. Goi Du Du – translation- crunchy green papaya salad with peanuts and prawn crackers, you can opt for chicken I opted for tiger prawns. It was everything it said it would be and more. A host of delicate flavours as well as crunchy textures, the prawns cooked still with a bit of bite to them. Superb.
Bun Ga Hue – translation- hot and spicy chicken noodle soup. Now remember how I said I am not really a salad girl, I’m also not really a soup kind of lady either, at least not for a main! However the waiter informed us that this is what there known for so I thought I’ve got to try it. This ain’t no ordinary type of soup, firstly it comes in a bowl as big as a football. Has got loads of chicken and noodles as well as a mixture of herbs and veg on the side you can add to it to flavour it just how you like. This is a soup for two, it is massive. It’s an unusual mix of flavours sour, spiced, very interesting. My Vietnamese friend used to make me soups like this but not to these epic proportions. You will not be hungry.
I also got to try the Ca-Ri -translation- which is a curry packed with loads of veggies, with tiger prawn, topped with nuts, and rice on the side. If you like Thai you’d like this. A very fragrant dish. The curry sauce is extremely thick and creamy, if you like rich things you’ll like this.
For desert we had banana fritters and coconut ice cream, to be honest I don’t know how we managed to fit it in, but the batter was light and crispy not oily at all, the ice cream was light and delicate. I also tried a Vietnamese espresso; I am now a convert to Vietnamese coffee, it’s rich and chocolaty in flavour gorgeous! If anyone knows where I can buy this type of coffee I need to know, so message me!
Also I recommend you try their cocktails. With all the fresh ingredients that they use; such as home made lemonade or mushed up basil, they actually taste really healthy…… other than the fact that they’re full of alcohol. I’ve never had cocktails quite like it, so make sure you give it ago.
Written by Tilly Li
Visit www.phocafe.co.uk NOW, you will not regret it.