From the same team that brought Viet Eat to Holborn in 2013, Pho and Bun aims to revolutionise the Vietnamese street food scene in London. The premise is simple: traditional Vietnamese street food with authentic, punchy flavours, served in a casual and easy-going setting. Most of the menu is dedicated to the restaurant's namesake signature dishes: the vietnamese ‘Pho' Noodle Soup and the Steamed Milk ‘Bao’. While Viet Eat regulars will be no stranger to the flavoursome Pho broth, the Bao-burger hybrid is the new dish on the block for this latest project: consisting of 28 day dry aged beef patties and steamed buns made in house freshly each day.
Pho and Bun's wine list can’t be called extensive, but with a vibrant selection of teas, aloe vera and a cocktail list that leaves guests spoilt for choice, one can hardly complain. We settled on the mango-chilli and lychee martini, the former of which is a little on the sweet side (we'd recommend using the lime garnish liberally), while the latter comes highly recommended: an intriguing concoction with expert sweet and spicy flavour balancing.
Upon recommendation from the ever informative, friendly staff, we began with the sharing platter: an eclectic display of deep fried crispy rock shrimp with spring onion and chilli, crispy spring rolls packed with succulent pork, mango salad and tofu rolls. This was as much a feast for the eyes as for the stomach, almost a shame to destroy by eating it. The mango salad showcased the ingredient deliciously: fresh, zesty and well balanced, we could have eaten it all night long. The spice for the chilli squid could have been used more liberally, but the crispy fried spring rolls made up for all its failings, with a peanut dipping sauce we could happily have drowned in.
The honey pork bao and spicy seafood pho followed. The former was a revelation: a fresher take on the conventional burger, the steamed milk bun was light, fluffy and slightly sweet, and simply melted away in the mouth. The honey pork was slightly charred, but the smokiness paired well with the sweetness of the honeyed sauce which married with the tangy crunch of the pineapple and creaminess of the coleslaw for a first class dish. This was a product of truly sophisticated flavour balances; this was comfort food with style. Guests should be warned that a single bao will not be enough so as to comprise an entire meal alone, and we’d recommend pairing with sweet potato fries or selecting an accompanying dish from the array of starters.
The Pho (think Chinese ramen, but with thicker linguine-esque noodles), served in a healthy sized bowl, comes served with spring onion, chilli, lime and sesame seeds for garnish. Surprisingly filling, with all elements: sweet, spicy, salty and sour in harmonious partnership, this soup is a winning winter warming dish. The squid was a little chewy for our tastes, however, and guests should be warned that, with pieces of dried chilli in the broth, it can be a little spice; we’d recommend a squeeze of lime and some hoisin sauce to soften the kick.
Despite being intrigued by the concept of a vietnamese flan, our eyes proved larger than our stomachs and we were ashamedly unable to find room for dessert. We left the restaurant with a feeling of warm satisfaction unencumbered by the familiar uncomfortable fulness we come to expect from western comfort food classics. A sophisticated and stylish comfort food establishment, Pho and Bun is well on its way to fulfilling its aim of revolutionising the vietnamese street food scene in London: one crispy fried spring roll at a time.
|What||Pho and Bun restaurant review|
|Where||Pho & Bun, 76 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6ND | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
03 Nov 15 – 01 Jan 17, 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
|Website||Find out more and book|