There has not been much new as far as east Asian food is concerned in the restaurants of Manchester over the last few years. However, here is one… I am Pho is the name of the first ever Pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup Noodles) restaurant in Manchester. There has always been a large Vietnamese community in Manchester, and I have always wondered why a place like this has not sprung up sooner.
Anyway, I have decided to give this place a try last month. It was located in Chinatown, next to the strip club, so if you go in the evenings, don’t let the sight of the burly bouncers put you off.
One word of warning … do not park your car outside the strip club. The bouncers will lean and sit on it. Because they look big and mean, they know no one will tell them off and they don’t care that they annoy the car owners.
Once in the restaurant you will notice that the layout was more like a café than a restaurant, but that is fine, because it felt clean and comfortable. However, the prices were not café prices. You could go to most Chinatown restaurants and order most noodle dishes at around the same price… about the £7.50 mark.
On the table is a range of good quality sauces and dips.
Of course, I ordered the signature dish, beef pho - with the beef rare, so that it is cooked in the soup. There were other dishes on the menu but 80% of them were a variation of the pho soup noodles, with a few rice dishes and the customary Vietnamese summer / spring rolls as sides.
The soup was light … very light. It tasted refreshing but lacked flavour, as if it was a little bit too diluted or not enough beef was used in the stock.
The noodles were fresh as opposed to the dry / reconstituted type, which is better than the only other Pho in tried in Manchester, in a café in Ancoats.
The beef were sliced thicker than I would have liked it, making it slightly tough. They (the beef) somehow tasted rather detached from the soup .. hard to explain, but you know the taste you get when you feel that the ingredients do not belong to the dish because the taste is too different? Maybe this is because of the lack of beefy taste in the soup.
The portion was generous and adequate for most hungry diners. I would return if I needed another pho fix, but not too often as I do not think this is good value. I think under £5 would have been a fair price for this dish which does not consist of any expensive ingredients.