Pho Restaurant opens in Nottingham this week located in Hockley inside the space formally occupied by the National Videogame Arcade. It has been a long wait for them to arrive as it was first announced back in 2020 that a restaurant was coming to the city.
I had never been to this chain before but plenty of people had said how good it was so I was prepared to hold my skepticism until I tasted the food.
I signed up to their website to get info and announcements and was just in time to snag an offer of a pre-launch booking to get a meal before they opened officially. I think that they filled up all the slots within an hour so you really had to be on at just the time to grab one.
I was eating out with my ‘partner in dine’ Alison who was checking out the vegetarian options, while I was pretty much here for a bowl of some sort of Beef Pho.
This was what we tried
PORK & LEMONGRASS MEATBALLS
I really do love meatballs so it was a very easy choice for my starter picking out the Pork & Lemongrass Meatballs from the menu. These were served with lettuce & herbs alongside a choice of nuoc cham or peanut sauce (I chose the nuoc cham).
Our server asked if I knew how to eat them to which I replied too quickly that I was planning to pick them up and put them in my mouth but no apparently you wrap them up with a bit of the mint inside the lettuce leaf, dip into the sauce, and then take a bite.
To be fair without being told that I would have probably just dipped each one in the nuoc cham and left the salad, and it was much nicer eaten with the mint and the cool crisp lettuce leaf.
I liked the flavour and texture of the meatball which was more crisp and perhaps dryer than expected. It needed that dipping sauce to pull it all together
I thought that possibly I needed more lettuce leaves or maybe I didn’t put enough meatballs in each mini wrap either way it ended up ok and made a nice meaty wrap in the end
VEGGIE SUMMER ROLLS WITH PEANUT SAUCE
Alison had the Summer Rolls made with fresh rice paper filled with vegetable, herbs, vermicelli & pickle, also served with a choice of nuoc cham or peanut sauce.
These were well packed with fillings and I have to say were looking rather good, they went really well with the thick peanut sauce and I was briefly jealous, well at least of the sauce 🙂
I would have been very happy with these wraps and they were declared to be fresh, flavoursome and tasty
BEEF COMBO PHO
Now the moment I had been waiting for, time to slurp some Pho. I was all about the Beef Pho but was persuaded to go all in an order the Beef combo which was a bowl of Pho with ‘steak, brisket & meatballs’.
I was really happy at that suggestion as it was really very good, the meatballs surprised me as they were both larger than expected and juicier than anticipated. You know I love meatballs so I was always going to be in love with this, but it was still an unexpected treat of a bite.
I liked that the brisket was falling apart in the broth making it even ‘beefier’ and I really liked the soft tender slices of steak too. Having three different types of beef certainly enhances the experience
There was a nice amount of greenery in the bowl with chopped scallions and coriander leaf and stalk floating about, and beneath the surface lay a big old pile of soft rice noodles just waiting to be dragged to the surface and slurped up with gusto
BOWL OF BEEF PHO
A fairly large plate of ‘aromatics’ to add to your Pho came with the bowl including loads of basil, mint, beansprouts and thinly sliced red chilli. I gamely added a bit of each but I could not fit it all in.
One word of warning that I should have given to myself was that the chilli may be small but it was hot and after one mouthful of stock I did find myself momentarily gasping on a spicy bite, luckily just at the same moment that our server refreshed my glass of tap water 🤣😎
I have had Pho in a few places in town and without being an expert in any level of authenticity or making a claim as to which one is really the best, all I can say is that I enjoyed the flavour of the broth here at Pho Restaurant more. It was meatier, beefier and herbier.
As with all noodle soups this was not a pretty sight to watch as I slurped my way through the bowl. I did fish out my noodles with chopsticks but I had to ask for a metal spoon as well so that I could drink the stock and so that I could balance each grab of food from the bowl before I sucked it in.
“THIS ISN’T CHICKEN” RICE BOWL
Alison checked out the ‘THIS isn’t chicken‘ & veg Rice Bowl for her main which was described as ‘broken rice topped with wok-fried Chinese leaf, radish, cucumber & pickles, finished with peanuts, herbs & fresh chillies’
It also looked and tasted really good and I am not sure that you would be unhappy as a meat eater with that pretend chicken. There was a lot of different textures in the bowl with plenty of crunchy veg and salad to go alongside the rice.
I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Pho, I was not sure what I was expecting as it is a chain and often I feel that food from such places is toned down for the masses. I had been told from friends that I trust that Pho was great but wanted to see for myself before passing any kind of judgement
Based on what I ate today I would happily come back for more Pho and would be happy to recommend to any friends left who have not already been before to come and try.
I know that we did not pay for the food as it was all part of their practice friends and family soft launch but comparing it with the prices locally for the same dishes I reckon that it is good value
Pho Restaurant in Nottingham is located at 24-32 Carlton Street NG1 1NN just in Hockley and right in the middle of all the good restaurants and bars down that slope, so they are in good company and I think will bring people into the area