Posts Tagged ‘spring rolls’

Having trawled (and enjoyed) all the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland road in our London days, Mr Towers and I decided to try this more commercial Vietnamese haunt with location in Shoreditch, Westfields and just off Oxford Street.

Logistics meant that we opted for the Great Titchfield street restaurant near Oxford street.

By signing up to the website beforehand, and indicating your closest or favourite restaurant location I became a ‘Pho-natic’.

This gave me a 40% discount on my bill in exchange for my contact details – bargain.

With a chilies Saigon beer we tried two starters and two mains.


Fresh Spring Rolls- These were not made with both pork and prawn like our usual ones but just with prawn. They were nice, served cut in two as they usually do in restaurants and had carrot in them like the ones we’ve had in Hanoi.  Served with nuoc cham. Have to say they were ok but a bit bland compared to our usual.

Banh Xeo Tom Ga  (known in my house as ‘Chinese Pizza’)

weirdly crispy. Nice enough with its mix of meat, prawn, soy beans and mint but usually I’ve had this in a floppy floury version rather than crispy. All in all I was quite pleased with it though.

Pho Tai or Pho with steak.

It was served well enough with separate chilli, coriander and soy for me to add to my linking but it was also a bit bland. Not in spice terms but in tastiness terms.

The broth was dark but lacking in flavour. I love Pho but this was really just like any soup. Maybe it was an off night or the quarter of lime was not enough to give the massive bowl a bit of zestiness but I was not really impressed.

Service was good and friendly and the location very hip, but I do feel that more was done with appearances and marketing than with the actual food.

Pho Cafe

Atmosphere: Homely but well designed

Food: Not bad but it’s not going to cure homesickness for Vietnamese food!

Price: £40 for 3 people with 2 beers each, pretty good thanks to the discount!

Would we go back? Not so sure


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If you love spring rolls you must know rice paper. I used to buy this in a Chinese shop near the station at Oxford and make some rather inelegant rolls whenever I had an absolute craving. Beautiful they were not, but they did the job.

Anyway for years I wondered about the pattern that is visible on them, like extended honeycomb. But as that disappears when you put them in water my musings were not extensive.

Anyway, at Cu Chi, better known for horrible tortures and vietkong tunnels, i discovered how these are made and why they have this pattern on them. Check it out yourself below:

The rice is crushed in a stone mill, skillfully operated by a seemingly would-blow-away-in-a-ghust-of-wind frail old lady. When I tried to turn this it remains totally immobile-humiliating.

Then the milky substance is cooked on a hot surface like a crepe and laid out to dry on bamboo mats which give it its texture.

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