Vietnam is definitely next on the ‘big trip’ list if Pho is anything to go by. When I lived in London we were regulars at the original Clerkenwell branch, I used to get giddy at the ‘everything is gluten free except the fried noodles’ gambit. I never quite believed them but tried tempting fate with all kinds of fried, besauced and dipped dishes; all with yummy happy-tummy consequences.
Since those happy spring-roll munching days, Pho have expanded their number of branches considerably, and have gone one step further on their menu, having realised the cultish following emerging in the gluten free community, and getting accredited by Coeliac UK. They have adapted the menu so all except one dessert option and the beers are suitable for coeliacs. Win.
The portions are still huge, incredibly good value and the rainbow of colours and fresh flavours in the salads and summer rolls feel deeply satisfying and virtuously healthy at the same time. Despite now being able to pick from fried noodles amongst everything else, I still stick to my usuals: some too-good-to-be-GF fried spring rolls or light and crispy calamari, followed by a herb-laden rainbow of a salad with a fresh zingy melange of mint, sugar, salt and crunchy peanuts; a fresh and frothy carrot juice on the side. It’s a lot like my favourite memories from Thailand, but without the following gluten headache. I enjoy the luxury of stealing liberally from my friend’s plate and dipping deep in the scrummy sauce. I’m always too full for pudding but I must make a return visit for the sole purpose of trying the (now gluten-free) fritters.
The buzzy atmosphere of the original has carried over to their newer opening in Liverpool Street (they won’t let you book so best to get there early before the steady stream of people), and even the branch I tried on a recent visit to Westfield; I hope they keep expanding to give the good people of Windsor their Vietnamese fix, these fleeting lunches between meetings at work in town just aren’t keeping me satisfied.
Glutenfreeability: 9/10 – they just need a gluten free beer on the menu now.
For the latest list of branches, best to visit the Pho website.
Pho kindly invited me to return for lunch on them in order to check out their new menu in order to update my previous reviews. I rarely accept this kind of offer, but as a long-term customer anyway I felt I wouldn’t be compromised. I am delighted to report that the only thing I had to change in my review was the detail of their new menu and the awful pictures I used to take!