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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pho Viet Huong

More a tip-off (of sorts) than full review this time is this entry on Phò Viêt Hu’o’ng, a fast food Vietnamese noodle joint recently opened up on Sokolovská 48.

I absolutely love a good Vietnamese phò bo, but with the noodle stand at Holešovice market only being open during the day when I’m at work, Hanoi in Vinohrady being only so-so at best (full review by Brewsta here), and the mythical Sapa being located about a million miles away somewhere in the region of the Bohemian-Moravian border, I don’t get to eat it all that often. And so, on randomly passing through the area last week, my interest was immediately piqued by the menu posted up on the door here, which offered a variety of Vietnamese dishes, including my much beloved phò bo or gà (spicy beef or chicken noodle soup), bún cá (cold rice noodles with pork curry and fresh herbs / green vegetables) and even fresh spring rolls (gòi cuôn tôm).

A night or two later I was back to try the place out for myself.

The interior was as you’d expect for a fast food Asian place - pretty basic, but with a few nods to the Orient in its otherwise sparse décor.

I was feeling rather frazzled at the time, having caught the wrong bus there from work and ending up temporarily lost and confused out somewhere in the anonymous Prague hinterland (disconcertingly devoid of even trams and metro), so understandably requested a nice calming glass of wine to start off with. They didn’t have any white, but only rosé and red (both refrigerated). Needless to say, I went for the rosé - 50kč for a mini bottle of J P Chenet. Not my normal wine of choice, but decent enough given I was in a fast food joint and hardly a Michelin starred restaurant here…

Unsurprisingly, I went straight for my litmus test dish of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, the phò bo at 80kč.

It came served with some pickled bamboo shoots, a few chopped up chillies, and a slice of fresh lime. I felt a momentary pang of nostalgia for the overflowing trays of fresh chillies in different coloured varieties, coriander, beansprouts, and basil leaves it would without exception have been accompanied by in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.

I have to say, I was a tad disappointed. Admittedly I do like my phò spicy to the point of lip numbness, but by anyone’s standards I felt this one was rather bland and uninspiring – certainly it did not bring about that much longed for noodley transcendence I’ve yet to achieve anywhere outside of Vietnam (though have come close to on occasion at Holešovice market). Bunging in a goodly amount of the chilli sauce, fish oil and soy sauce they had available on the table helped somewhat.

In my initial enthusiasm, I’d also ordered a portion of fresh spring rolls at 55kč. These actually arrived after my noodles rather than as the starter I was expecting.

Oops, clearly a case of extreme over-ordering here – especially on top of a large bowl of noodles as well. I will confess to ferreting one away secretly in my handbag, just so as not to appear unappreciative. Still, they were pretty easy to pass on, to be honest. Mainly filled up with noodles, a few slivers of iceberg lettuce and cucumber, and one or two frozen shrimp per roll, these had practically no taste or flavour at all, and the sweet sauce it came with didn’t really help much either. I personally like the infinitely more flavourful fresh crab spring rolls at Malý Buddha much better.

Still, despite a less than promising first visit, it was still with a certain sense of eagerness to sample their bún cá yesterday evening, only to find the place unceremoniously shut up for the day.

Having hauled arse across town and nearly asphyxiated from the intense body odour of some of my fellow passengers on Prague public transportation to get there in the first place, I was - to put it mildly - decidedly (and yes, possibly also irrationally) narked. Rather uncharitably perhaps, I therefore decided that Phò Viêt Hu’o’ng through its laxity in opening hours had hereby unwittingly forfeited their right to a second, potentially counterbalancing review – beware restaurants and eateries of Prague, you cross Knedlikova at your peril... ;-))

Well, there we go – the place is there, let me know if you go and whether it’s worth my while to head back there sometime. Either way, I expect I will probably relent sooner or later and head back for that much anticipated bún cá and report back via the blog or accompanying Facebook site at some point in the future. But based on my disappointing first visit and seemingly random opening times, I wouldn't hold your breath…


  1. The pictures made me feel hungry even if this place didn't score full marks... What I'd like to know though is that a whole bottle of rose you had to yourself Ms Knedlikova ;)

  2. Was a mere mini-bottle of 0,25l, so yes ;-))

  3. Honestly, no more excuses and run to SAPA. Take bus to Sidliste Pisnice and you're there. Worth a trip. Then follow your nose to the bun cha stand. Or enjoy a plate of fresh herbs and other stuff with your pho bo.

  4. I know I know Sim, I keep meaning too... Maybe next weekend and I can report back here afterwards.

  5. It's just down the street from my apartment and I pass it nearly every day. It always looks so dirty, I can't make myself go into the place.

  6. I'm addicted to fried noodles there (6 and 7 on the menu). The Pho isn't my favorite either, prefer the one at the market in Malesice.