I was craving Vietnamese food and Pho was brought up after my housemate mistakenly assumed I was heading there (instead of I am Pho in Chinatown, on George St).
I looked at the menu online and saw they do a lunch deal from 12-5pm on weekdays, so I thought it was worth a try.
Unfortunately, I faffed about getting ready and made it to Pho just five minutes late 😦
Missed the lunch deal (£9.95 for a main and starter- menu here) but oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back for food next time.
I decided to get the Phở chín– tender beef brisket slow cooked in broth (£8.75). According to the description on the site: Phở, (pronounced fuh) is the Vietnamese national dish; an aromatic & delicious rice noodle soup served with a side plate of fresh herbs to add as you please.
Extra toppings like tofu, brisket, mushrooms etc. can be added on for £1/1.75.
I was quite glad to see that the beansprouts were served raw, as is traditional- too many places boil them before and it loses the taste and crunch.
It came with the usual other herbs: mint, coriander(?), chilli- I would have loved to have more coriander and mint, personally, but I think that’s an issue that you could settle by asking the servers for more.
The broth was quite flavourful but just a tad saltier than I would have preferred- still excellent and nearly just like the phở I had in Vietnam years ago!
I think when a dish is taken out of its country of origin, it can be replicated well, but somehow there is a little essence of something that is lost.
There are so many factors: water, ingredients, etc., but I think Pho Manchester does a pretty good job replicating this Vietnamese dish.
Pho’s website says: our broths are made in each restaurant by slowly simmering bones for a good 12 hours & it’s this authentic preparation that is key to phở retaining all its goodness & developing its own distinctive tastes & aromas.
Is there any wonder that this dish is Gordon Ramsay’s choice of a last meal? It is warm, savoury, intense, and filling (I could gush adjectives all day)- one of my favourite comfort foods.
I got Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee, £2.80) to accompany my main, and when it first came, the coffee was really watery, weak, and barely had any condensed milk in.
I didn’t want to seem like I was being fussy but I didn’t want to waste it- I spoke to the server about it and she sorted it out for me right away without any fuss.
The second try was perfect, good strong brew and sweet without being too cloying. Kudos for the fast and excellent service!
I will probably update this review when I come back for a second visit with thoughts about starters and desserts (eyeing the Gỏi cuốn [spring rolls] and Chuối chiên [banana fritters])
Granted, I’m a bit disappointed there isn’t much variety in desserts aside from ice cream, since a lot of their sweet desserts e.g. Chè Bà Ba, Chè Chuối, are flavourful and easy to replicate: sweet potato, banana, coconut milk make up the base for many of these and would really allow patrons to experience some local desserts that are popular at night markets and street stalls.
I was initially quite wary about visiting this restaurant since many restaurant chains claiming to do “authentic” food end up doing lots of ~fusion~ dishes catered to local tastes (not that there’s anything wrong with that, since that is the majority of their customer base, but it’s sometimes a little disappointing).
Pho has lots of good veggie or vegan options too (e.g. Phở chay: tofu & button mushrooms in a veggie broth), which is quite good for the diet-conscious who struggle to find variety while eating out.
— I Love Manchester (@ILoveMCR) January 24, 2017
They gave me a cute postcard with the bill and now I feel like I need to visit Pho in every city just to collect them LOL. Sneaky marketing hahaha
Monday to Friday: 12pm – 11pm
Saturday: 11:30am – 11pm
Sunday: 11:30am – 10pm
Tel: +44 0161 464 9779
I went back for a second visit for the lunch deal and was not disappointed by the spring rolls- I highly recommend getting the peanut sauce with it- it reminds me a lot of peanut satay sauce I usually get in Singapore hawker centres (oh, how I miss cheap hawker fare) and it was sweet and salty- very flavourful and was a perfect addition to the herby, tangy flavours in the spring roll.
My taste buds were in overdrive and I kept making all these ridiculous sounds, it tasted that good. There were so many flavours going on and I love how there was a perfect balance of greens, noodles, and they didn’t scrimp on the prawns like most places usually do.
I would probably go in for the spring rolls alone since it costs £4.95 and for 4 servings, I wouldn’t mind paying that. The size may be a tad smaller compared to I am Pho (in Chinatown) but given the proximity to the Arndale/Market Street it’s quite easy to pop in for a quick pick-me-up after shopping.
The Pho broth was not as good this time around and I was mildly disappointed given how much I sang its praises on my first visit. Also, real talk- why do they use ramen spoons for Pho?? The spoon was absurdly big, awkward to use, and entirely from the wrong cuisine.