Sunday 15 January 2012

A return visit to Vnam Café

This is just a quick report of a return visit to Vnam Café on Oldham Road in north Manchester.  Everything I said in  my previous report still holds.

The setting is basic and easily missed from the street, though I was told they are hoping to do something about that.

I ordered some barbecued quail to start with and the beef pho, though both came together.

Chim Cut Nu'ong: BBQ quail
Six quid buys you three half quails. I've no idea what's in the marinade that the quail must have been in, but it's jolly good.  The little bowl I think contained merely salt and pepper, but wasn't really necessary, as the quail was tasty enough in itself.  Very juicy meat combined with a bit of char and a slight crisp to the skin. Delicious.  Though not a dish for those afraid of bones or of using their fingers.

Pho Bo: Beef noodle soup
 Then on to the main event of this quick lunch, the Vietnamese national dish, phô. This is a noodle soup, the star of which should be the stock.  My pho was pho bo, apparently the northern Vietnamese version, featuring a beef stock and slices of beef (in the south of Vietnam, pho is apparently more heavily seasoned and features more herbs, greens and chillies).  A pile of beansprouts and herbs come separately, along with some rather ferocious sliced chillis.  According to the menu, the broth is flavoured with cinammon, cloves, star anise and coriander.  I can't say that I could particularly identify them, but, while quite light, it was nicely flavoured and didn't dominate the other ingredients.  Initially, I shovelled in most of the beansprouts, herbs and chillis, but it wasn't long before I was fishing out the chillis, as for me, they'd more than done their work and were my making my nose run! Again, this was great value: £6.50 bought a very large bowl that I struggled to finish.

Vnam Café is unlicensed, so I kept it local and had a can of Vimto! That brought the total cost to £13.50. Excellent value.  Good, friendly service too.

At the end of my meal I noticed that staff lunch appeared to be bowls of steaming pho, which is a recommendation in itself.

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