Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pho 68

Last week I was on a course in Sheffield on a day that was so very cold, the water on the 'Cutting Edge' sculpture by the train station froze. 

After my course I met my mum for some shopping and a catch up. It was so cold that the actual marrow in our bones started to hurt, so when thinking up a location to to meet my dad for dinner, it had to be somewhere cosy where we could thaw out.

My mum had the perfect suggestion. Pho 68 - a Vietnamese café on London Road (same foodie locale as our other Steel City favourites, Wasabi Sabi and Zeugma) where we could get a huge steaming bowl of hot Pho to warm our cockles. Apparently my brother (the jet-setter of the family. Currently residing in Melbourne) had been waxing lyrical to Mum about the wonders of Vietnamese food since his recent visit there (COULDN'T BE MORE WELL JEL IF I TRIED) and she had wanted to give it a go ever since. I know very little about Vietnamese food - something I've been meaning to rectify but as yet have not. Mum and Dad were seasoned pros compared to me as I'd packed them off to Vnam Café while we were at a birthday bash at El Rincón the other week. My mum was sold on the Vietnamese nosh, describing it as delicious, fresh and healthy.

We started off the meal with a cup of Vietnamese Green Tea and a basket of prawn crackers that we ate so quickly we didn't even save any for Dad let alone take a picture. The tea was so subtle and lovely - the perfect way to start our meal.

When Dad arrived, he was very reasonable about the missing crackers and treated himself to a pint of Sunlik Beer. He was a fan of this, even though I've just discovered it's not actually Vietnamese.

Starters were Rice Paper Rolls all round. My mum absolutely loved these at Vnam Café and couldn't wait to get some more of these bad boys. Me and Mum both went for the Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with Bean Curd.

We couldn't believe the size of these things when they arrived - they barely fit in the palm of my mitt and we could easily have shared one between two. However they were so splendid I was happy to be a greedy pig and eat a portion all to myself. Lovely soft vermicelli noodles, crispy beancurd, crunchy cucumber and a nice bit of corriander. I loved the sweet, vinegar dip that came with them and the fact there were tiny flowers made of carrot floating about it in. A beautiful starter.

Although I love bean curd I got a bit of prawn envy from the beautiful pink prawns peeking out of Roy's Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with King Prawns. Although the Pho 68 rolls were ace, my mum said the Vnam Café's take on these were even better.

However, the thing that did beat the VNam Café was the gorgeous bowls, or should I say buckets, of hot Pho that were deposited at our table. They were huge! Plus you got to pick your favourite out of Thick/Thin Vermicelli, Flat Rice or Udon Noodles. My mum actually looked at her bucket of Steamed Chicken Noodle Soup in disbelief and said "How am I going to get that (pointing at bowl) into here (pointing at tum)?" I was impressed that for a little lady she managed a fair old bit and said the chicken was delicious.

My dad had chosen the Won Ton Noodle Soup with Thin Vermicelli and this also looked fantastic - full of pak choi and little won tons. I was surprised that despite giving it a good go, Roy could not put this entire soup away. I really thought he would do it.

There was a short wait on my soup which I didn't mind too much as I'm used to things arriving at different times in Asian restaurants. It was worth the wait and my soup was jam packed with every type of vegetable imaginable - all beautifully crunchy/al dente, as well as more of that dreamy beancurd.

I'd chosen to have the Flat Rice Noodles in my soup and these were gorgeous - nice and thick and a little bit sticky.

The broth was also lovely - very light and a more subtle than Japanese broths I've had in places like Kyotoya. I got stuck right in to the plate of lettuce and beansprouts that we'd been given to accompany our soup - I definitely got my 5 a day that day. I'd also spent a quid on a portion of chopped chillis to put in my soup which was a quid well spent.

Eating the entire dish was a delight and even when I too had to give up (I managed about as much as my dad though - score) I wanted to carry on. Despite the fact we'd eaten a massive amount of food, we all said you could tell the food would be easily digested and we didn't feel at all gross like you do when you eat a load of greasy food.

Our meal at Pho 68 definitely did the job of warming us up, in fact it was so nice and warming that the window we were sat next to steamed up. Just the ticket for a horrible cold day.

When the bill arrived, my dad couldn't believe it and exclaimed "That's absurdly cheap!" We then started discussing the fact that if we were students living on London Road, there would basically be no point in ever cooking yourself a meal as it would just be cheaper to go to Pho 68 for a soup. So if any London Road students are reading this, that's what you should do from now on. You're welcome.

We all LOVED Pho 68 and for me this was a superb introduction to Vietnamese food. When I told Bailey about it, he was well jel (not as jel as me about my brother actually going to Vietnam but it's all relative) and I promised him I'd take him in when we're in Sheff sometime so I for one will definitely be returning. My mum and dad said they couldn't wait to recommend it to friends.

If you're looking for a foodie hotspot in Sheffield, London Road is definitely it. I haven't had a bad meal there in my life. Pho 68 was packed with people and it's such a vibrant spot - we could see all the restaurants in close proximity were full up and the Oriental supermarket across the road looked fantastic. If you're in Sheffield and looking for an exotic bite to eat, get yourself down there!

If Roy Morris likes it, it must be good.

Pho 68 on Urbanspoon

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