Looking for a Vietnamese meal in London? Well, you would be silly not to start your search at the brilliantly named, Pho Mile, a stretch of 10+ Vietnamese restaurants a stones throw from Hoxton station. Now, you need a local who is too inquisitive for their own good to try them all for you, ‘hello there’. After some extensive and ongoing research below are my three favourite restaurants.
First here are three tips to insure the best Pho Mile experience:
– Alcohol, in short don’t bother, if you must I would go for the beer, otherwise tea is best.
– Service, nowhere on Pho mile really understands the concept of a starter and then a main, you may not have finished the starter, you may not have even started the starter, just go with the flow.
– Too much food? Doggy bag friendly, don’t be shy.
Bun Bun Bun
A relatively new member to the Pho Mile club with it’s modern hipster interior it is practically fancy… If you are new to Vietnamese cuisine and/or the area, this is great place to start. Bun bun bun, is slightly higher priced than the rest (still cheap in my books), and it is the most date night worthy of the bunch.
Starting with the spring rolls, which is probably my highlight. Put the 90’s small town grease box takeaway out of your mind; these chunky rolls with visible pieces of vegetable are a whole new entity slipped into their net like pastry, served with a familiar sweet chilli dip.
For mains I am always drawn to the classic Pho, no matter what the weather I’ll have my face sweating ducked over a bowl of steaming noodle soup. Who wouldn’t want to be on a date with me? Plenty of fresh herbs, fierce chilli pieces and pickled ginger, an interesting addition to throw into the beefy goodness.
My date had one of their set rice meals with a soft juicy duck breast covered in a fruity sweet sauce with rice and fresh vegetables on the side. It might not be a ‘traditional’ Vietnamese dish but it certainly captured the clean flavours which is why Bun bun bun gets a tick from me. I plan to go back to try their signature dish Bun Cha.
Mien Tay keep buying and selling additional restaurant space to cater for their popularity, the reason? Good food, great prices. Mien Tay would be for the slightly more adventurous, perfect for a group of friends, albeit the dodgy interior.
The menu is extensive and cheap, although Chinese style dishes do creep in. We start with prawn and pork summer rolls served with a spicy dip with crunchy peanuts, a classic but I have eaten better on Pho Mile.
Next we try the garlic and chilli prawns, we are presented with this super fresh colourful pile of prawns. It was absolutely delicious, an outstanding dish from a understated restaurant. Definitely our highlight, fresh ingredients creating a perfect dish, confirming my love for Mien Tay.
We are presented with our mains my beef pho, along with mango and chilli seabass, pak choi and rice. My pho has a fairly light flavoured stock but they are generous with the rare beef. The mango and chill fish was a great flavour combination if a little dry, especially in comparison to the juicy prawns.
Song Que Cafe
Song Que an old timer on Pho Mile would be my final choice, it’s worth a visit for a good (my favourite) Pho. Exterior and interior inline with the majority of Pho Mile but with high ceilings and two sides of windows it is light and breezy inside. However, the reason I like Song Que so much is that it has become a spot for the solo diner; with plenty of window tables it’s a chance to get away from the bustle of Shoreditch High Street and do some people watching. This being said I would still visit with groups of friends, they have plenty of room.
Above is my beef pho, with a richer stock than the two other restaurants, but slightly less impressive garnishes, but I do not care if it isn’t as pretty the flavour is great.
Above we have my friends slightly Chinese food style choice of chicken cashew and stir fried rice, lesson learnt, always pick the Vietnamese food in a Vietnamese restaurant.