So what’s the deal? A whole host of warming phos and noodle salads (around £8) at this basic longstanding Chalk Farm Road Vietnamese café. It’s had the same chef and owners since 1990: that’s nearly 30 years, and impressive by anyone’s standards – especially on a stretch that sees a very high turnover of occupants.
Talk us through things. The pho is the obvious choice, and a good place to start: the aromatic broth is cooked for at least seven hours, and served with bean sprouts, mint, coriander, fresh chilli and lemon wedge (we favour the addition of big juicy king prawns). It’s a close-run contest with our other local faves, Kim’s in Camden Market and the excellent Pho Ta in Kentish Town.
So what to order? Our current obsession as the season changes is a summer-is-in-the-air rice noodle salad with lettuce, pickled carrots, coriander, cucumber and peanuts, topped with crispy tofu, chilli, garlic and onions. Wonderful (and the same price, £8).
To drink? Since we only go at lunchtime, it’s always tap water. Sorry guys. But of course the usual wines, beers and soft drinks are all available.
Busy? Yes. Packed at lunch and dinner (on the odd occasion when we’ve gone after work); we’ve even been known to sit at the table where most customers await their takeout orders.
What other deals are worth investigating? The simpler lunch menu where all dishes are just £6 – an unadorned list of stir fries and green or red curries.
Notes: It’s a £10 minimum card spend – or just go armed with cash. And if you eat there regularly enough, the staff will realise you’re probably local – and may even greet you with a smile.
Main image: Thanh Binh