I love Vietnamese food and will happily travel a long way to get my fix (please see my Hanoi and Saigon posts), so when I heard about this place in Manchester I was on the train and through the front door like a ferret in a drainpipe.
Mi & Pho (Elementary A), 384 Palatine Rd, Northenden www.facebook.com/miandpho
According to people who keep an eye on such things, Mi & Pho came out of nowhere and became the Trip Advisor #1 restaurant in Manchester, a position it held for a month before somebody mucked up their algorithm with a poor review (inevitable, there are always snarks). More recently they have won Restaurant of the Year for the North of England in the Food Awards.
Such accolades are quite an achievement for a small no-frills café located in Northenden, a highly unfashionable part of town. They’ve done it on the strength of their food which is authentic and healthful while being excellent value for money. Much of this is down to their chef, a cousin of the owner, who quit his restaurant job in London to come and work up here. It also helps that they are nice people who give all their customers a warm welcome.
Three of us were made to feel very much at home by the young owner before tucking in to…
Gỏi Cuốn – rice paper summer rolls with prawns and roast pork. I make these at home with leftover roast chicken, love them so much.
Gỏi Du Dử – green papaya salad with mango, carrots and mixed herbs. Not as spicy as it can be, which is good, as a version I once had in Thailand with grated chilli is officially the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life!
Bún Huế – hot and spicy soup from Huế province with bún noodles, and in our case tofu and vegetables.
Bún Sài Gòn – southern style stir fried marinated pork with onions, lemongrass, chilli and beansprouts served with bún noodles, mixed salad, pickled vegetables, crispy shallots and crushed peanuts.
Pak Choi Chinese cabbage stir fried with tofu.
Salt and pepper spare ribs.
Bánh Xèo – pancakes made with rice flour and coconut milk and stuffed with pork and bean sprouts. A bit oily but oh so good.
This would be a bit of an overkill for three normal people but we finished everything off! It’s the kind of food that’s so good you just can’t stop eating, and it feels okay to do so because so much of it is healthy veg and herbs.
We didn’t get round to trying the Pho (pronounced ‘fur’) as it’s a meal in itself. But I’m sure it’s very good given the quality of everything else.
My only criticism is that they should get an alcohol license. You can BYOB and we got our beer from the Polish shop a few doors down but they are missing a trick by not selling it themselves.
So, top marks (A). Just wish we had an authentic place like this in Sheffield.