Dining out at Pho Exeter for the win!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you that last year I worked on WOW – Women of the World Festival, Exeter’s digital marketing and audience outreach? Well, last night, we had a bit of a WOW Exeter team reunion at Exeter’s only Vietnamese restaurant PHO. If you haven’t been yet, please get your bottoms into gear and try it out – it’s delicious!
The story (straight from PHO’s website):
Stephen and Juliette Wall opened Pho in June 2005 after they travelled to Vietnam and fell in love with the food. They made the decision to start a restaurant serving phở while sat on high stools, slurping pho bo, in Ho Chi Minh City. 13 years later, Pho is still a family-run business serving great value, healthy Vietnamese street food that is cooked fresh daily (no central kitchens!).
I’ve done a bit of travelling in my time (I wasn’t lucky enough to get to Vietnam) but I was reliably informed by my friend Estelle that the food is very true to Vietnamese street food. It’s simple, it’s fresh, it’s healthy and it’s flavoursome – the perfect combo (IMHO).
We were welcomed and offered drinks with prawn crackers. Having given up the booze in January, I opted for a ‘Nojito’ (a non-alcoholic mojito). It was refreshing, tasty and a great aperitif (as good as the real thing without the hangover).
The staff were sweet and attentive, as my friends arrived they talked us through the menu and made some great suggestions. The menu has a great selection of healthy (and not-so-healthy) drinks and juices to chose from.
With one vegan and a dieting – mostly – veggie (me) in the group, we opted to start with a selection of vegan starters to share, including:
Gỏi ngó sen – tangy lotus stems with green bean & sesame seeds – which we were intrigued about. It turns out it’s a delicious salad with a super tasty dressing the lotus stems reminded me a bit of pak choi stems combined with asparagus (I think this was my favourite starter).
Gỏi cuốn fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli & pickle which were delicious, fresh and perfectly formed.
Enoki hand roll: beautiful rice paper hand roll filled with crunchy veg, enoki mushrooms, fine vermicelli & perilla – also tasty and the peanut sauce made an excellent bed partner.
Bánh xèo – savoury Vietnamese crispy crepe with rice papers & herbs. You roll the crepe in the herbs and rice paper, dip and eat! (This I didn’t try but I was reliably informed that it was also delicious).
I was really pleased to see their specials menu which was brimming with very low-calorie meals with noodle alternatives including courgetti and cauliflower rice. I must add here, that most of the menu is healthy and teaming with vegetables.
I popped along to the kitchen to see what was cooking and I was greeted by a rather happy (if not camera shy) chef. I have to add at this stage that ALL the staff I came across at Pho are lovely and incredibly helpful which just adds to the dining experience (thank you Pho Exeter team).
And onto the mains…
It had to be pho for me. As a pho virgin, I needed to know what all the fuss was about. According to Pho’s site; “Our stocks take around 12 hours to prepare – this authentic preparation being key to the stocks retaining all their goodness and developing their own distinctive tastes and aromas. Phở … is the perfect comfort food or pick-me-up!
We think it’s also the best noodle soup in the world!”
You read that correctly: “THE BEST NOODLE SOUP IN THE WORLD” – that is quite an accolade, and I think that if the team at Pho have big enough balls to say that, they must be pretty confident in the quality of their offering… I needed to find out, so I ordered the Spicy green courgetti Phở with tofu, green beans, pak choi, fresh lime & Thai basil in spicy veg broth with courgette “noodles”. Unfortunately, they were all out of courgetti but they have some butternut squash noodles instead (which I actually prefer so I lucked in).
My Phở was served with a side plate of herbs and extra ingredients, including bean sprouts, chilli, lime and coriander.
The waiter even gave me a bib so that I wouldn’t ruin my top (I must look like a messy type).
And the verdict?.. drum roll, please…
IT WAS GLORIOUS – definitely up there as the best noodle soup stock I’ve tasted. There was flavour upon flavour of deliciousness; star anise, cinnamon, ginger, clove, lemongrass.. every mouthful I tasted something new.
Estelle ate hers up in minutes!
The naughtiness at the end
You’ve eaten all the food and then comes the question you’ve been waiting for;
“Would you like to see the dessert menu?”
Would I ever! (The answer is ALWAYS yes)
Estelle and Elaine opted for BÁNH SÔ-CÔ-LA TRUFFLE a Chocolate truffle slab served with green tea ice cream. Chloe and I shared a strawberry and basil sorbet – The perfect light ending to a yummy meal.
Over fresh mint tea we chatted about our latest projects and whether figs are vegan-friendly if wasps die in them.. read more here. Answers on a postcard please!
And there ended a glorious night ❤️
I recomend you try it for yourself and tell us what you think of it and while you’re at it, tell me what you think of my photographs? I test drive my new Fujifilm X-T20.
Read on for a brilliant half term offer >>>>
If you are in Exeter for February half term KIDS EAT FREE AT Pho Exeter for half term, until Sunday 24th February! Pho has a very healthy kids menu plus games and colouring in to keep them entertained.
Ts & Cs: Children (age 12 and under) eat free all day, eat-in only, with a paying adult. Maximum of four children per adult.
More info and full menu here.
Disclaimer: We received a free meal in exchange for coverage, all opinions are mine – it was pretty tasty!