My fella has recently returned from a 3 week trip in Thailand. Unfortunately he’s turned into one of those typical gap year folks. “Oh when I was in Thailand…” “Actually when it’s made in Thailand…” “That’s not quite what it’s like in Thailand”.
As you can imagine, eating out is now a struggle. English food is bland to him, he has no interest in pizza and god forbid you present him with anything remotely Asian because “that’s not how they do it over there.”
So when we walked past the newly opened Pho restaurant, I knew I was taking a risk.
The restaurant boasts simple dishes imported from Vietnam. If you’ve never tried vietnamese food, it’s less spicy than Thai, but similar in the way they use lemongrass and coconut milk. Think fresh ingredients and clean flavours. No MSG lurking in sugary sauces like Chinese food and no unrelenting heat, just simple tasty dishes.
Pho has been opened a little over 2 weeks and resides on the hidden side of the Corn Exchange, tucked away near Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. The building is yet to be finished, but a few restaurants have opened their doors early to get a head start.
Of course, Pho has that untouched feel because it’s not been open for long. Nonetheless, the timeless interior gives off a simple look that reflects the menu. The wooden rattan lights and low lit space gives it an authentic feel. You can choose from three levels of seating (yes, the space is huge) and there’s a range of intimate booths, tables and benches.
Vietnamese food isn’t the flamboyant kind. The dishes on offer have been passed down through traditions and let the taste do the talking.
I was spoiled for choice when I first scanned the menu. Originally thinking I’d try their namesake dish, I was swayed by the waitress who was more than happy to offer advice. Torn between the pho and com tam cari, she explained said that the latter was her preferred choice.
Both my partner and I opted for the com tam cari. Whilst I chose the tofu option, Ryan went with chicken.
I can only liken it to a cross between satay and katsu. The com tam was a rich flavoured coconut curry with jewels of fresh veggies. The tofu took on all the flavour of the sauce and had the perfect texture, hidden amongst crisp peppers, carrots and courgette. This was honestly one of the most tasty dishes I’ve had in Manchester.
My only issue (and it’s only a small point) is that the plates weren’t heated, so the curry sauce was a little cold around the edges. For a restaurant that’s been open for 2 weeks and serves great food, they certainly should be forgiven.
I paired my meal with a yuan blooming tea, which had a delicate floral taste. If you opt for the tea you’re allowed to top up your cup with hot water to get the most from your brew.
The service was excellent and I was really impressed by how attentive and knowledgeable the staff were. I know it’s early doors but if you’re local I implore you to try Pho!