Friday, 8 June 2012

City Càphê, phở and trouble in the kitchen

With many things in life you have many choices – usually. Let’s imagine you want to go to the supermarket and buy some strawberry jam. Do you get the one with fruity bits or the smooth one? The standard one or the organic? Reduced sugar? With 70% fruit or more or less? Premium? Special brand or brand of the house? … Sometimes, having too much choice can bring you to the point of not wanting to choose anymore.
This, however, has nothing to do with the now following, has it?
If you would like to have some Vietnamese food (well if you live in Vietnam, this of course is no point) you can either go to a restaurant or do it yourself.
If you happen to be around London you could try the City Càphê at Ironmonger Lane near the Bank of England.

I don’t want to use the term fast food in this connection, but I got my food quite fast, although when I went there at lunch time, there was already a long queue that reached even outside of the restaurant. However, it was worth waiting for it.
The original plan was to get a Báhn Mì, a filled Vietnamese baguette. However, I didn’t succeed. I came to late, all the baguettes were already gone. So I went for some phở.

It brought quite some heat (OK, you can’t see the chillies on the photo, but they were there). Judging from the weather, though, this was not necessary, since the sun had already decided to bring some heat to London (it didn’t last too long).
Well, if you happen to be around London, near the Bank of England and you fancy some Vietnamese food, you can try the City Càphê. I liked it. If you manage to come at the right time, you may even be able to taste a Báhn Mì.

Now you could also go and do some cooking for yourself. This is always good. As I mentioned in a post earlier, I had a taste of Vietnamese food before at a Vietnamese lunch with Uyen at the Fifteen in London. She also taught us to make Vietnamese summer rolls.
It also happens to be the case, that Uyen has a recipe for phở on her blog.
First of all you have to get the ingredients, and here again it applies, depending on where you live, you will get things quite easy or have some trouble. I had to do some driving around to get at least most of the required items. I thought I could omit the few things I couldn’t get (yes, it was no problem).
The other thing is, you need some time to put all the things together. There is absolutely no need to get hectic though. I wonder, when I will learn this myself. So I managed to pour some boiling water over my hand (I survived – it wasn’t that bad).
Then I was ready for simmering – two hours (the stock of course was simmering, not I myself). 
It could be a problem, when you are already hungry at this stage. However, while shopping for the needed ingredients I got myself also some rice paper to prepare summer rolls. So, I thought, why not have some summer rolls in between.

I must admit the they were a bit short, stubby looking. Well, the rice paper was too small. Next time I use bigger ones or more than just one.
Finally, though after more then four hours, nearly five, I was ready to have my own phở. 

First go the noodles, meat, coriander, onion, spring onion and then pouring the hot stock over it. Then finish it off with some Vietnamese basil, beansprouts, chili, and juice from a lime wedge.

Summing things up (blog-post-recipe-tester), I was very much pleased with the results. The recipe was good to follow and everything worked out as expected. Where was the trouble then? There only will be trouble, if you start it yourself (like not concentrating or being hectic).
If you are not having some visitors, by following this recipe, you end up with quite a good supply of stock for phở. Well, I will have some of it today again, another day this week again and there is also a lot stored in the freezer. I had a look at Wikipedia as well. There it says that phở is traditionally something for breakfast. So ... why not!

What’s next? Who knows … there are always so many options.


  1. Vietnamese food is my absolute favourite food at the moment. Adore Báhn Mì and always feel nourished after a good ole pho. I've still to make spring rolls. They look very healthy:-)

    1. I've got only recently into it ... I will be going for more.

  2. your pho looks really good! I've never tried it, but it looks so nice and warming!

    1. Thank you! It is also great for breakfast - that is if you have some in the fridge to assemble quickly!


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