Regular readers will be aware of my enjoyment of Vietnamese pho, which for the uninitiated is a beef and noodle soup served with herbs, thinly sliced onions, lime and chilli sauce to taste. Most Korean chain pho is rubbish, but there is the odd gem here and there doing it right, most notably Pham Thi Chinh in Wangsimni.
Pho For You is much closer to where I live – a four minute walk rather than a 40 minute journey. So when it opened up a few weeks back I was intrigued, and a positive review on a Facebook page made me curious to go in.
Advertising itself as an American pho restaurant, Pho For You is a nicely appointed restaurant with plenty of seating just past Craftworks Namsan, in Gyeongnidan. The menu is quite small; a couple of spring rolls, rice dishes, and the main event, the pho. I had been told that pho in the States is usually made with a deeper and darker broth, which often leads people to be disappointed with the “real thing” when they actually visit Vietnam.
Certainly as soon as it comes to the table you can see and smell the difference. The broth is certainly darker and a bit more intense. I’m not sure it tasted all that rich to me, but there was no mistaking the depth of colour. I added some bean sprouts, coriander, a bit of green chilli, Sriracha and hoi sin, and squeezed over some lime.
Verdict? Pretty solid. The portion of meat was quite generous, as I’d have expected for the slightly high price of 9,000 for the regular bowl (I ordered the version which comes with two cuts of meat, brisket and deckle; you can get it with other bits and pieces, including tripe, if that’s your fancy). I felt it lacked much in the way of complexity; the broth was flavourful, but not particularly aromatic. I ended up adding more of everything to amp up the taste.
I also ordered some shrimp spring rolls, but they were out, so I didn’t get to try that. I’ll be back to experiment with some of the other menu items, and its convenience so close to my bus stop to work means that this is likely to be a semi-regular lunch stop for me. But Pham Thi Chinh retains its crown, for now.
- Category: Vietnamese
- Price: $$$$
- Must try: Pho with brisket and deckle (9,000 won)
- Directions: Pho for You is at the base of the footbridge which connects HBC with Gyeongnidan, just a bit past Craftworks. From Noksapyeong, walk up towards Namsan until you get to the bridge, and you’ll see Pho for You on the other side of the road.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, lunch and dinner – I think.
Yes, here they are: the Korean food industry’s most coveted awards, at least since I came up with the idea in the shower fifteen minutes ago. Here are the Soju Sunrise nominations for my favourite places of 2015.
To be clear, I do mean personal favourites. Despite using the word “best” about 20 times in this post, I don’t claim these as in any sense definitively the top places in Seoul to eat the specific cuisine in each category; rather, these are my favourites, the places I’ve returned to after a good experience to try again, safe in the knowledge that I’m in good hands. There are almost certainly others out there that are better. That’s what the comments section is for!
So without further ado, here are some of my foreign food highlights of the year. Where applicable, there’s a link to my review; otherwise, Google and Naver are your friends. Get there quickly, because my recommendation is like Tasty Road to the power of 10, and there will be lines out the door within hours.
Here’s to 2016!
Maddux Pizza (Itaewon) [above]
Rye Post (Itaewon) [above]. Honourable mention: Fat Cat (HBC), Casablanca (HBC)
The Beastro (Hongdae). Honourable mention: Libertine (Itaewon) [above]
Brera (Beotigogae) [above]
Little India (Itaewon) [above]
Amazing Thailand (Hongdae) [above]
Pham Thi Chinh (Wangsimni) [above]
Best American BBQ:
Nagomi Ramen (Hongdae)
Best of the Rest that doesn’t fit in any other category:
Taverna de Portugal (Hongdae, currently closed), Da Korner (Itaewon) [above]
Anthracite (Hongdae) [above]
Cacaoboom gelato (Gyeongnidan / throughout the city). Honourable mention: Fell & Cole (Hongdae) [above]