Pho Restaurant - Vietnamese Street Food

Sunday 20 October 2019
* Complimentary meal *

I'm forever harping on about how amazing Southampton is for food but now it's time to show off one of the gems in Portsmouth. I do love hopping on a train & heading to Portsmouth for the day, as much as it's still a bustling city like my home town it's always a nice change to head to Gunwharf Quays as it's full of restaurants we don't have, including PHO!

I don't think I've every really tried Vietnamese food before so I really had no idea what to expect but the fact that there were already people queuing out of the door filled me with high hopes.

PHO is a family run business & the brain child of Stephen & Juliette who opened their first branch in 2005 after travelling through Vietnam & ultimately falling in love with the vibrant street food. They've now been open for 13 years serving up healthy Vietnamese food which is cooked fresh daily in each branch.
The menu is vast & almost every dish can be made vegan, a majority of dishes are gluten free while also being able to cater for most allergies too, Dale in the Gunwharf branch was really knowledgeable about allergens which made it so much easier to choose our dishes but the menu itself is very clearly marked.

We visited on a busy Saturday afternoon & like I said, the queue was out the door already, I find a lot of restaurants talk the talk but can't walk the walk when they are busy specially in peak times, something always seems to give & I've left places before saying " It was busy, that why it wasn't that good" but lets be real, that's no excuse & PHO fully set an example to follow because it was a faultless meal & I heard the table behind us saying how good it was even though it was heaving.

Now, if you're anything like me, it's going to take a while to choose your dishes because they have one big menu & I low key had no idea what anything was but Dale talked us through what was on offer which made it that bit easier, throw in a cocktail & I'm ordering everything I've never had before.

I opted for the Gin Spritz which is a refreshing mix of Gin, Cucumber, Lime, Mint & Soda, it would have been very easy to slip another couple down, possibly one of my favourite cocktails to date.

Let's talk food, we were all getting a bit indecisive & made a group decision to just order a few different bits for us all to try & see how it all fairs. 
I went with the Cánh gà which is seasoned crispy chicken wings served with sriracha, good choice on my part. Then there was Mực chiên giòn, tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip, I couldn't tell you what they were like because I don't do seafood but Alice can. I think the tables favourite was the Nem nướng though, homemade pork & lemongrass meatballs with herbs & lettuce to wrap & dip into the best peanut sauce I've had, I could have easily eaten a whole lot more of them, Oh & of course some prawn crackers with sweet chilli dip!

When it got to the mains that took us a while to choose, there was so much calling out to me that I  wanted to try, there's Pho, Broken Rice, Wok-Fried Noodled & Bún too. In the end I thought it was only right to go for the national dish of Vietnam which is Pho, a bowl of rice noodle soup which comes in a variety of choices including Chicken, Tofu & Steak among a few more, you can go Vegan, Veggie, Dairy free, Gluten free & a low calorie too & the Pho you choose comes with a side plate of fresh herbs to season as you like. There's also some sauces on the table specially to go with the Pho dishes & you can add them to your soup as you please, there's a little recommendation card on the table with the sauces to tell you which one goes best with each type of Pho. I went for the Phở gà, which is chicken breast in a chicken broth & added bean sprouts & mushroom to mine then following the recommendation card I added some Garlic & Chilli vinegar which gave it the little kick & flavour it needed.

The other orders on the table included the Ca-Ri Chicken which was a curry, Cơm Tấm Rice bowl full of veg & herbs topped with Pork, Beef & Chicken and the final one was the Bun Beef which as much as I enjoyed mine, I was swaying towards a Bun option & this one gave me a little food envy.

We all fully enjoyed our meals & my gosh are they big portions, it didn't matter how much I ate of mine, it just didn't go down, so you better be hungry if you're going to pay a visit, it's also a really reasonably prices place to go & you definitely get more than your monies worth. 
At this point we were all pleasantly filled up, the food is fairly light so you don't feel like you need a food nap after filling yourself up, you may even trick yourselves into dessert like we did.

Again we all went for something different, although if I'm completely honest, it was the only part of the meal that let them down. I only had a couple of bites of mine which was thBánh kẹp lá dứa a freshly cooked pandan waffle with icecream or sorbet. It was a strange one, it didn't really taste nice or of much if I'm honest, so that was a disappointment, I ended up sharing the Chuối chiên which is a banana fritter & you can't really get those wrong can you, I enjoyed those. Then we had a Chocolate Truffle slab with green tea ice cream & a passion fruit cheese cake, again, we weren't blow away & would probably skip dessert next time we visit.

Overall we had a lovely time & a really enjoyable meal minus the desserts & we all said we'd have to back again because there was so much more we wanted to try. PHO is a brilliant new addition to Gunwharf Quays & we would very much like them to maybe shimmy up the coast a bit to Southampton too! We don't have anything like it around here!

If you're looking to try something a little different to the usual chain restaurants that we get everywhere I would 100% recommend heading to Pho to try it out! 

Emmy-May x
*This was a complementary meal in return for a review, all words are my own as always, see disclaimer.


  1. I love Pho, so many good options, I was so impressed with their veggie menu when I visited! The cocktail sounds so good! Gorgeous photos ��
    Hels xx

    1. Their menu is so impressive, from veggie to vegan as well as all allergen information. It's such an easy place to eat!
      Emily x