Since I was diagnosed with coeliac disease nearly 10 years ago I have lived by a blanket ban across Asian food. Blasted soy sauce. But in the last year or so, following on from the pizza restaurants, Asian restaurants have become taken a look at their food to make it more widely accessible to the free from community, for example Itsu and Yo Sushi. This now includes Vietnamese street food chain Pho.
Forgive me if this is not news to you. But it was to me. You see, I no longer have the luxury of office lunches at Pod, Itsu and the likes. At home with 2 little boys, out in South East London lunch is largely home made, but on invitation of Pho, I ventured to the Battersea branch.
Based on the national dish of Vietnam, Pho is a naturally gluten free rice noodle soup based on broth, sliced chicken or beef, fresh herbs, using table sauces to tailor the dish to your own tastes. What I particularly love is how each venue makes its own dishes, with daily delivered ingredients, including the bone broth, which is bubbling away for 12 hours. Freshness guaranteed and no central kitchens (aka factories).
The new menu, now 99% gluten free, means that just a cake and the beers banned for coeliacs. I don’t know about other free from-ers, but I’m just not used to having so much choice. A whole new cuisine for me, and an entire menu to choose from, was a rare experience.
There are rice paper rolls, spring rolls, crispy chicken wings, pork and lemongrass meatballs, fried baby squid and more, each served with their own punchy dipping sauces. A massive choice of authentic Pho, wok fried Bun vermicelli noodles or Pho Xao flat rice noodles each with a choice of protein, plus the broken rice curries and sides which I am yet to try. I was overwhelmed with the choice.
Beginning with light rice paper summer rolls left just enough room for the amazing value Bun. Stir-fried and fragrant dnem nuong pork balls, nestled alongside a crispy spring roll, heaps of noodles, fresh veggie and herbs felt simple and nourishing. I loved the food and for me it showcases how with a bit of thought, many menus can be naturally gluten free, without compromising remotely on the finished product.
The thing I loved the most was the little box on the back of the menu, quietly stating that Coeliac UK accredits the menu and it is largely egg and dairy free too. All they need is to list a gluten free beer and cake.
Please note: I was a guest of Pho, however all my views are independent of this. If it’s good I say it is. If it’s not, it won’t be on here.