Pho: Vietnamese street food.

A few weeks ago, we had a customer at work looking for a particular piece of equipment. She was so lovely to talk to, even though we didn’t stock what she was looking for, and the conversation swiftly moved to coffee.

She told us of a Vietnamese coffee you can get at Pho. She was so impressed by it that myself and a colleague decided we would try to get our lunches together and head on over to try.

Oh. My. God. They are heaven.

It’s served in a small glass, with a coffee filter on top. At the bottom of the glass is a deliciously thick layer of condensed milk. Yes, that’s right. Creamy, caramelly, sickly sweet condensed milk. The way they put this in the bottom and put the coffee on top creates a beautiful upside down Guinness effect, and they remain separate until you stir them together; and oh my must you stir them! The resulting drink is malty, caramel toned, with a kick of clean filtered coffee. Absolute heaven.

Whilst there we thought we would try some of the food, most people around us seemed to be having these huge bowls of broth and noodles, so we ordered the same. Chicken, in chicken broth, with heaps of noodles, and a small plate of herbs that you add to your taste. There’s even a small collection of traditional sauces on each table that you can add to your dish.

I know what you’re thinking: lazy. It did kind of occur to me that you’re being served a bland, plain dish of bone broth, plain chicken, and plain noodles… they aren’t even thinking of making up flavours! But then to people who are picky, have dietary requirements, or just fancy mixing it up one day, it’s probably food heaven!

I tried it first, to taste how salty it was and to see what kind of things I wanted to put in… it wasn’t great. It was completely bland and I realised I would need to add a lot to it to give it some sort of flavour. Luckily, the ingredients they give you (let’s face it, they’ve given you ingredients to finish off the dish!) are mostly what we use at home, so I knew what herbs and sauces I enjoy together. I piled them in, which made it more palatable, but I couldn’t quite enjoy it like I thought I would. Then it hit me: the dish smelled of wet dog. Wet dog. I’m not sure if it was the noodles, the boiled chicken, or the bone broth, but the aroma that had arrived at the table with the dishes was definitely wet dog. 

I couldn’t finish it. I tried eating just the meat, but it was boiled and a bit squeaky. The noodles were almost slimy, and the broth just gave off this wet dog steam whenever I brought it up near my face.

My colleague, of course, was absolutely loving it! Lapping it up, twirling big loops of noodles, and laughing at my horror.

It was reasonably priced, and you do get a very large portion of food. If you like making a dish your own, you would love the way they encourage you to make your own dish at the table.

And if you love coffee, you absolutely must go.


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