Are you pho real? Review – Caphe Pho – Smithfields, London
In the shadows of Smithfield Market you’ll find a veritable Vietnamese feast waiting for you. I am of course talking about Caphe Pho. Flanked by large office buildings this place has a great footfall mostly made up of office workers and people like me out to find a foodie gem. I was brought here by my fellow foodie, Felicia, who is quickly becoming my partner-in-crime. The restaurant has a heavy wood influence with floors, tables and chairs all getting in on the action. The modern low-lighting lends itself to the highly-polished reflective surfaces and creates a warm, inviting setting for our lunch.
We arrived at midday and the restaurant was still quiet. We took a table along the back wall so that we could get a good overview of the comings and goings whilst we ate (a typical food blogger move, we’re a bit nosy). The menu is pretty extensive and is one of the healthiest I have looked at in a while. Vietnamese cuisine, as I am fast learning, is about incorporating the five tastes in one balanced, healthy dish. There are very limited use of fats here so no wonder it has a reputation for being one of if not the healthiest cuisines in the world.
Our starter dishes were salt and chilli soft shell crab and salt and chilli prawns. They were well cooked and presented and tasted great. Spice was well balanced although I like mine more spicy. Soft shell crab was a first for me, I liked it once I had removed the excretive element of the dish. The crabs are cooked whole (of course) and eating the ‘shell’ was easy, as it’s soft it is eaten as it comes out of the sea.
There is a lot of variety for the mains, even on the lunchtime menu, which is when we were visiting. I went for the chicken curry (daily special) with a side dish of rice and F went for a Pho noodle soup. They were both well proportioned to the point where neither of us could finish our plates. The curry was mildly spiced but came with extra chilli on the side which I made the most of using it all. Did I mention that my favourite Indian is a phall? That gives you some indication as to how spicy my palate is. The pho had plenty of meat and came with a side of herbs, spices and gfreens to add to your taste. Both satisfying dishes which we enjoyed.
I left it to my companion to order dessert, I was full! She had the Kem ice-cream. I tried it but it wasn’t for me, she loved it. Think sorbet with a gelatinous texture and frozen fruit.
The menu is very affordable and the portions are generous. By the time we left this place was heaving with the lunchtime crowd of office workers and local mums. A popular place it seems. Good food will do that so if you like Asian cuisine and a plethora of dishes to try then Caphe Pho is the place to give your taste buds a treat from Vietnam.