Banh Mi and Friends at Pho Hot Holloway
Written by: Tavia Davies
Flocking to Holloway Road on one of the many Sundays that we’ve spent at the Nag’s Head Car Boot Sale, we spotted a new Vietnamese place called Pho Hot getting ready to open up their doors. Being the nosy folks we are, we peeked inside and spotted a menu. Banh Mi was on it. Glory of all glories! It’s been far too long since I last consumed this distinctive sarnie and I’m happy as Larry that there’s a new Banh Mi joint on my doorstep.
You know those prawn crackers that actually taste good and not like vaguely shrimp-esque Styrofoam? Yeah, we got that fancy stuff on the house for eating in rather than taking away. Oh the dozens upon dozens of locals who filtered in and out for a takeaway lunch whilst we were there, all missing out on a free woven bowl of scrumptious chilli-fied crackers. Fools, I tell thee! You take your gorgeous Vietnamese main dishes and get out of here; these crackers are ours and ours alone.
Sorry about that. Crackers make me a bit overexcited. One could say that it they make me crackers ahem…
To drink, we each chose the Vietnamese iced coffee – a strong, chocolaty coffee with sweetened condensed milk spooned over ice and frothed up. A sweet, refreshing little treat that’s much like slurping up a melted coffee ice cream.
Next, we chowed down on some Goi Cuon: a pair of summer rolls filled to bursting with huge pink tiger prawns, refreshing rice vermicelli, crunchy slivers of cucumber and fragrant Vietnamese herbs all wrapped up in gloriously chewy rice paper and served with a side of homemade peanut hoisin dipping sauce. It was a delicate, fresh and vibrant bundled of joy.
By no means am I a banh mi connoisseur but it’s certainly my favourite sandwich in all of planet Earth. I dare you to find me a better sandwich than the humble banh mi. There is a very particular balance needed to concoct the perfect specimen, which is: a crisp baguette, a range of daintily pickled vegetables, just the right amount of herbs and a succulent meaty filling. Pho Hot have these four crucial elements spot on. A crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside baguette? Tick. Filled to perfection with just the right amount of sliced cucumber, fresh coriander, pickled carrot and mooli? Tick. Meaty slices of spiced pork, grilled pork and a thick pate? Tick. Additional bonus of being smothered with a heat-packed kewpie mayonnaise? Double tick.
Our photographer, mostly through fear of me eating his own banh mi, opted for the safer choice of the Pho Bo Tai: a beautifully well-balanced noodle soup served in a bowl bigger than his head, which is a pretty remarkable feat in itself. Flat rice noodles were skulking in the bottom of the aromatic beef broth, sumptuous slices of rare beef were floating merrily atop and an unusual but welcomed addition of raw red onion were also in for the ride. Coriander, mint, beansprouts, a slice of lemon and a few rounds of fresh chilli were served on the side for an extra kick. But nothing is ever hot enough for this photographer, so he slapped on a good dashing of sriracha before slurping down the entire thing with a resounding ‘very good’ erupting between gulps.
We flirted with the idea of ordering some lemon yoghurt for dessert, but quickly realised that we were both full to bursting and couldn’t possibly stuff our faces any further. Pho Hot, you’re an absolute star and we’ll see you soon.
They also deliver across a remarkable amount of postcodes so you can chow down on rolls, pho and banh mi every single damn day from the comfort of your very own home/office/blanket fort. You’re welcome.
Pho Hot, 197 Holloway Road, N7 8DJ.
Open Monday – Sunday, 11am – 9.30pm.
Photography by Michael Barry of The Barefaced Movement.
Flocking to Holloway Road on one of the many Sundays that we’ve spent at the Nag’s Head Car Boot Sale, we spotted a new Vietnamese place called Pho Hot getting ready to open up their doors. Being the nosy folks we are, we peeked inside and spotted a menu. Banh Mi was on it. It's a baguette, but not as you know it. Glory of all glories! It’s been far too long since I last consumed this distinctive sarnie and I'm happy as Larry that there's a new Banh Mi joint on my doorstep.
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