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Credit: Jack Champion and Victoria Matthews

Phở-nomenal

Phở (pronounced fuh) is an authentic Vietnamese franchise that has recently opened a branch in Reading town centre, and are giving students a 25% discount off food this October!

That’s not the only reason it’s worth a visit—from the huge portions of fresh, delicious food to the great soundtrack and inexpensive cocktails, the restaurant delivered on many fronts. Two members of The Spark team and I were lucky enough to go to the restaurant for a review, and we can truly say that Phở is an interactive eating experience.

Many of the dishes we had came with instructions to roll, squeeze, wrap, and dip our food, per Vietnamese culture. We were even encouraged to eat the delicious homemade peanut sauce by itself, which we’d definitely recommend! Many dishes are customisable, coming with vegetables and seasonings on the side to add to your own taste, whether you’re spice-phobic or spice-manic. We found the ability to personalise each of the dishes a real strength of the menu, and would recommend sharing food to get a bit of everything on offer. We were impressed by the quality of the ingredients across the board and admired their promise to make all dishes “on site from fresh ingredients delivered daily.”

Even to those without pens and paper, poised to critique their every move, each member of staff was friendly, helpful, and gave off the impression that they genuinely loved working at Phở. They were happy to answer any questions we had about the culture surrounding the food and blooming franchise, though we thought it might be a nice touch to have some more information readily available around the restaurant, perhaps on small cards on tables to educate even in busy times.

From front to back, the restaurant maintains a clean, smart, and calm atmosphere, embellished with beautiful tables and lamps, which complemented the overall experience. The layout of the restaurant is open, with one corner of the kitchen being visible, giving us further confidence in the food’s fresh preparation.

On top of this, there is an emphasis on providing for a wide variety of diets: most of the vegetarian dishes are also vegan, and lots of the dishes are also egg, dairy, and gluten-free, accredited by Coeliac UK. (Akin, the assistant manager, even gave a special mention to the gluten-free ginger soy sauce!). For the meat eaters, too, it doesn’t disappoint, giving the option to add steak, chicken, brisket, beef meatballs, or pork-balls for only £1.75 to any dish.

A wide selection of drinks and their spritzers, juices, lemonades and cocktails are available, all made fresh, too. Of the drinks we tried, the standout was the homemade lemonade, which was zingy and beautifully natural-tasting. We would also recommend the spinach, cucumber, pear & lemon (green detox), which honestly felt like it might be the cure for fresher’s flu. Whilst we didn’t try any of the cocktails, we were told that the “Phojito” is their best seller, and like many of the cocktails, it is made with rice spirit.

To finish our meal, we had a Vietnamese coffee — sweetened with condensed milk — which perfectly complemented our chocolate truffle slab and green tea ice cream dessert. The pudding, which was recommended to us, was rich enough to share between three, but as with all the other food on the menu, it was just light enough that you could eat it all and not feel sickly. Despite having three (delicious) courses, we did not leave feeling heavy or bloated—we left feeling full but healthy and light, which is a testament to the fresh ingredients and lack of additives. Phở is no standard take-away: you’ll find no MSG here.

Though they do not accept bookings on Fridays and Saturdays, their turnover rate is very quick, and people are seldom left waiting more than 15 minutes for a table. If you’re looking for a quieter eating experience, the best time to go would be between 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. midweek, which might work well with a lot of student timetables. If you don’t fancy going into town, Phở is available to take away by Deliveroo. Either way, if you order from Phở and get one thing, make it the “Cà-ri”, an unparalleled coconut-based curry, available with chicken, beef brisket, king prawn, or tofu—a stand-out on the menu.

If 25% off incomparable freshly made food—where no dish is over £11.25—isn’t enough to persuade you, or its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, then consider their charitable commitment to Action Against Hunger (@ACF_UK). Through a meagre 50p additional charge to each bill, which is double by GiftAid, Phở raised £29,000 in the last year alone, and this year hopes to raise £35,000, so you know you’re eating well, and doing some good at the same time.

Make sure to check out Phở’s website, phocafe.co.uk, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat @phorestaurant for more information.

Edited by: Jack Champion and Victoria Matthews

About Lucy Robbins

lucyrobbins31@gmail.com'

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