It’s been nestled into Bold Street for years but now Pho has a second Liverpool home on Castle Street. The new opening was too good an excuse not to try it.
That and the fact Vietnamese is my absolute favourite food. No joke, I still regularly think about loving Hoi An’s lemongrass tofu and Hanoi’s spectacular veggie food after spending a month there back in 2017. So it’s safe to say, Pho on Castle Street had a lot to live up to.
It was a rainy Monday evening but as it was still busy following their opening weekend, the vibes inside were great. Looking out onto the drizzle through steamed up windows is always satisfying, but even more so when accompanied by great smells and neon signs cutting through the low lighting.
Accompanied by spicy lemonades all round (although the spicy margs came highly recommended if you’re not the designated driver like me!), we got straight down to the good stuff with our starters.
I’m putting it out there now: crispy spring rolls over summer rolls any day. I don’t know how Vietnam make their spring rolls so amazingly crunchy but Pho did a top job of replicating the real deal, with a peanut dipping sauce that packed just the right balance of nutty and zingy. Our server recommended wrapping the lettuce garnish around the veggie spring roll with a sprig of mint and it was a surprisingly good combination.
We also went for the baby squid, paired with a salt, pepper & lime dip you whisk up yourself to get that balance of flavours just how you like it. Honestly, I never thought I’d be a squid kind of gal but this was incredibly tender and that sauce – wow. A taste sensation!
Choosing our main courses was so tricky that our server very patiently came back three times to check up on us. There are so many great options on the menu, from bánh xèo (a crispy pancake), curries and bún noodles to many varieties of Pho itself. Eventually, I ruled out the bánh xèo for its messiness and opted for phở xào – wok fried noodles served with tofu and mushroom. The chilli sauce complimented the dish nicely and the tofu was well done (it’s not easy!) but I’d have liked to see a little more of the lemongrass flavour that the menu promised. I also added some soy sauce to kick up the taste.
At this point I was full to bursting but who was I kidding that we’d just look at the dessert menu? It was a toss up between the pandan waffle and chocolate truffle slice but in the end, our curiousity about pandan won over. Turns out it’s a tropical plant with a slight vanilla flavour which is used to colour food – as you can see by the green waffle above! It was nice enough, especially with the lovely ice cream but for me, savoury options always win when it comes to Vietnamese food.
All in all, my first experience with Pho in Liverpool was great! With friendly service, a good atmosphere and plenty on the menu to keep me going back again and again, it definitely won’t be my last visit.