The appropriately named Pho and Bun restaurant in Soho serves authentic Vietnamese food in the heart of the theatre district. Their menu is varied yet not excessive and as their name would indicate their menu features Pho which is a traditional broth that is not only healthy but also extremely tasty with its herb and spices as well as Buns which are rather yummy burger like creations. There are of course other dishes to choose from but these are their best sellers and you will see why shortly.
The restaurant was busy when we found it. There appeared to be a range of customers from people on their work breaks, people visiting London, families and foodies.
On our arrival the duty manager Babis showed us to our table which was available within minutes gave us our menus and advised us on some of his favourite dishes. What a fabulous fellow, clearly a foodie himself he was very passionate about the food served and quite rightly so as it is very healthy and also clearly very popular judging from the steady stream of new arrivals. There is also a seating area downstairs so there is plenty of room.
After careful consideration we decided what we were to try and the ever attentive Babis appeared like magic just at the right time to take our order. This guy was great giving all his customers attention and assistance.
The menu was varied and all the dishes sounded fabulous which made choosing what we were to order very difficult. We decided as the restaurant was name Pho and Bun it would be wrong of us not to sample both. We requested one tasting menu with the Pho Bo Tai and also the Lemongrass Beef skewers. I opted for the Bun / Steamed Bao Burger with the 28 days dry aged beef, red onion relish, house pickle and smokey mayo.
Cocktails to start:
My plus one tried the Chilli-Mango daiquiri. This has a mild kick to it but isn’t too hot. The heat is counterbalanced by the sweetness that makes this a great cocktail. The Lychee Martini was my option and was amazing. It was easy to drink, full of flavour and the various flavours worked well together. I could have easily had another but I had food to review so needed to be able to concentrate on taking photos and writing notes.
Pork and Crab Spring Roll
These pieces were pretty large for spring rolls and crammed with fresh vegetables and crab meat. The portion size wasn’t big but it was part of the tasting menu rather than individually ordered so the size was about right. The flavour was more subtle than that of the other dishes and the sauce it was paired with as a result was light to allow for the various flavours including that of the crab to be tasted rather than overwhelmed.
Chilli Salt and Pepper Squid
I must say this is one of the best versions of this particular dish I have had although the squid itself isn’t the softest I have tried the batter was nice and crispy, perfectly seasoned, not greasy and the freshly stir fried onion, spring onion and pepper with just the right amount of salt really did add the perfect finish to the dish. This was a dish we both agreed would could have kept to ourselves. You might want to order one per person if you pay these guys a visit as it was lovely. This dish has so much flavour on its own it has no need for a sauce.
Fresh Summer Roll with Tiger Prawns
I really do enjoy summer rolls. The act of eating them makes me feel so healthy and the fresh flavours of the herbs and other ingredients not only look but taste great. I have been making various types of summer rolls for years including ones with chicken, my recipe for which you can find on my Summer Rolls page. The summer rolls at Pho and Bun were equally delicious and their appearance attracts attention. The accompanying peanut sauce was better than many I have tried with a rich flavour and not at all oily.
Mango Salad with Tiger Prawn
This was simply amazing. The fresh flavours of this create a fabulous dish and I was very pleased that Babis had given us a larger portion of this as my tastebuds were in heaven. Seriously sitting here writing this now I wish I had a bowl to munch on as it is also very healthy and could make a great meal by itself. The ingredients are quite simple but as you can see are all fresh which make a difference to the flavour of the dish. Again fresh mint and coriander appear in the dish as does a little chilli to add a nice kick. This is the epitome of healthy eating. The sprinkle of crushed peanuts add a little crunch to the dish as well as additional flavour. This salad was also great to cleanse the palette between dishes and also cool if you had eaten something spicy.
Lemongrass Beef Skewers
The flavour within the lemongrass spear infuses with the juicy beef to create a mouthwatering dish. Perfect for the meat eaters among us this is a great dish that is as delicious as it is beautifully presented. The caramel and soy sauce like flavour of the sauce gives a gorgeous contrast of sweetness to the savoury meat. The flavours of the fresh mint and coriander compliment it well. Hardly surprising this vanished very quickly so if you are sharing this between two you will either have to share the third skewer in a civilised manor like I did with my plus one or have your fork at the ready to pounce so you don’t miss out. The garnish with mooli is also delicious with a yummy dressing, we didn’t leave anything on this plate except the actual lemongrass skewers. This was in addition to the tasting menu but well worth trying as far as we were concerned and we were very appreciative to Babis for recommending these.
Pho with Rare Sliced Beef
Again we listened to Basis’ advice and went with the rare sliced beef as we were advised that we simply needed to stir the soup in order for the beef to be cooked by the hot broth. The broth has a secret combination of spices that give it a lovely rich flavour. This dish is definitely full of flavour and comes with a bowl of fresh herbs, beansprouts, chillis and lemon. You simply pull the leaves off the stems of tear them apart and toss the in. The spiciness is controlled by each dinner as you choose how many chillis to add. This was popular amongst other dinners and I observed quite a few with Pho of different types.
Bun / Steamed Bao Burger
These are freshly made and served with salad, house pickle, fresh herbs and homemade mayonnaise and a choice or free range organic meats or crispy tiger prawns. I asked for some sweet potato fries to go with this. The fries are great with a soft inside, crispy outside and the are extra tasty with the chilli mayonnaise they are served with. The burger although on the smaller side from what we may find in some burger chains is far superior to them in in it’s quality of ingredients, flavour and juiciness. Burgers should be moist not like cardboard and these are not only moist but cooked to perfection as you can see in the photo below. I think that a large size option should be available for those wanting to come for healthy burgers and chips as the other local burger restaurants simply can’t compete.
We were pretty full by the time we had eaten all this and only just managed to squeeze in a dessert albeit to share.
Coconut Snow with Vietnamese Ice coffee
With the weather being warm this was not only delicious but also very refreshing. A welcome addition and lovely end to a fabulously tasty meal. The coconut can be tasted although is overpowered a little by the coffee here. Either way it was very nice and we were pleased we managed to find space in our pretty full stomachs to fit it in.
Babis insisted we try a Matcha Green Tea soft ice cream as we left. Armed with a match cone in hand we proceeded into the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of London ready to do a little walk to help our food go down.
Basis also kindly gave us a portion of the Flan Caramel with Vietnamese coffee and also Pandan and Coconut Panna Cotta with Peanut and Pineapple Salsa to take away and try later. These were both very good. The flan was lovely and thick yet creamy and went well with the coffee. The Panna Cotta was amazing the flavours worked incredibly well together and is a dessert I may have to look into recreating at home.
Service at the restaurant was friendly and efficient. I loved that all the dishes had a lovely selection of fresh ingredients which was obvious from the flavour and the portion sizes were good. The prices for the location are reasonable and this is really a great place for food lovers to pay a visit when in London. This has to be one of my favourite London restaurants so far with a great mix of flavours and many more dishes I would love to try.
We would love to say a big thank you to the wonderful Babis without whom I am sure our visit would not have been as enjoyable even though the food was fabulous.
If you have not been here yet you really are missing out!
My Score: 4.5 / 5
This meal was complimentary but our views were not influenced in any way.