The restaurant is located in a building which used to be an office block which also happens to be the building where Nick & I first met so it was super fun to be able to go back there over 6 years later for a meal & to laugh at the silly (& probably very obvious) cross-office flirting we used to do.
We both started by ordering some juice to sip whilst we perused the menu, I went for apple, lime & mint.
This was obviously freshly squeezed & I loved the combo of lime & apple with the slightly minty after taste - yum.
We, as vegans, obviously had a few questions for our waitress when she came back to take our orders & she was SO awesome. As soon as I said we were vegan she said that they they don't use any egg or dairy (except for the coffees & desserts) and that we had the option to choose vegetable stock for any of the soups. It was so nice to see someone in a non-veggie chain restaurant who seemed to understand veganism.
To start we decided to share the Summer Rolls.
As a vegan you have the choice of two dipping sauces, peanut or sweet chilli & we went with the peanut. These were really light, fresh & delicious & there wasn't too much basil which was good as I sometimes find that it overwhelms the other flavours.
We couldn't decide what we wanted to order as a main so we just picked two things & shared them. Firstly the Bun Chay, rice noodles topped with stir fried vegetables, fresh herbs, peanuts, a spring roll and our choice of mushrooms & tofu.
As is traditional in Vietnam the noodles in this dish are served cold whilst the rest of the meal is warm, I wasn't sure I'd like this but of course it worked really well. The tofu was delicious & there were a huge amount of mushrooms but I think the star of this choice was the spring roll, we'll definitely be ordering a whole plate of these each next time - yum. This dish usually comes with a side of nuoc cham sauce but as stated on the menu this contains fish sauce so to make it vegan you just need to let them know & they'll bring you a ginger soy sauce instead.
Secondly the Pho Chay, a Pho noodle soup with tofu & mushrooms.
This comes with a side plate of beansprouts & different herbs which you can use to flavour the dish just the way you want it, I'm not going to pretend to know which herb I chose to flavour my dish but it smelled great & tasted even better. The soup was full of little button mushrooms & the tofu was light & airy, it was really great & this is definitely what I'll be ordering next time.
Dessert is usually something vegan's have to skip when dining in a chain restaurant but not here, we were really impressed when they told us that not only were the sorbet's vegan but so were the banana fritters, amazing. It was taking them a long time to bring over our desserts & we were wondering what was going on when our first waitress came over to tell us that the waitress who'd taken our dessert order had got it wrong & that the banana fritters were not actually vegan - the batter contains a mix of dairy & coconut milks. We were fine with that & glad that they were being honest but what we weren't expecting was that the reason it was taking so long was because the chef was busy in the kitchen making this dish vegan - how nice is that? So if you're dining at Pho, try asking if they can make you a vegan version of their banana fritters, it can be done & they were certainly delicious.
The batter was light & airy and our lovely waitress said that they did in fact look better than the usual one's!
I choose the mango sorbet because the menu said that it had over 55% real fruit & I was sure that it would actually be a decent sorbet not some tasteless chunk of freezer burnt ice.
It was really good, it was hard to keep Nicks spoon away from it. I'm really looking forward to trying either their Pear or Strawberry and Fresh Basil sorbet next time.
As a vegan eating out at a chain restaurant I have to say this has been the best experience I've ever had, the staff were amazing, the food was top notch & it was so cool that they went out of their way to veganise a dessert just for us. Thanks guys!