Mi and Pho — Manchester

20 October, 2015

Unusually, I spent the day in Manchester today. I knew I’d be finished with my commitments by early afternoon and so I decided to try to find somewhere truly yummy to have a late lunch. The availability of truly scrummy food is one of the few things I miss, now that I’ve moved to a tiny village in the heart of farming country. It’s a fair swap, but still… I do miss it!

I was very tempted by the prospect of dim sum at the Yang Sing, where I’ve happily pigged out many times in the past, but I’ve recently watched a lot of very happy-looking people eating/making pho (– apparently pronounced ‘fur’ without the ‘r’ –) on YouTube, and so I decided to go Vietnamese instead. Yum 🙂

TripAdvisor currently ranks Mi and Pho as ‘2 of 1,852 restaurants in Manchester’, so I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, it’s almost 20 years since I lived in Manchester, and so I’d forgotten that Palatine Road goes on for a loooooong way… My anticipated £5 taxi fare therefore turned into £17.50 including tip, but I reminded myself that a brief jaunt round the food hall in M&S would have inflicted much more damage and tried not to fret 🙂

I eventually arrived at the restaurant and shot in, in case some speedier diner might grab the only remaining table. I immediately saw a sign indicating cash only, though, and so I shot out again even more quickly than I’d entered and made a strategic visit to the cash machine next door. It was working. Phew!

Newly cash-rich, I re-entered the restaurant and bagged a table. Even at 2.30pm it was fairly busy, and so it was with a sigh of relief that I sat down. Exciting!

The staff are friendly, and quickly came over to say hello and proffer a menu. It was at that point that I think I made a fundamental error.

Upon reflection, the whole point of pho is that it’s made with a rich beefy, boney stock that has simmered for hours. Since I’ve recently given up meat I decided to go for the prawn pho rather than the beef, which is what I really wanted. The soup I received was good, but I think there’s a limit to what can be done with prawns in the production of stock, and so it wasn’t quite the unctuous concoction that I’d been hoping for. My fault, I think, rather than theirs. And major kudos to the restaurant for clearly using different stocks, based on the customers’ choice of main ingredient.

Summer Rolls - Prawn

Summer rolls – Prawn

Pho -- Prawn

Pho – Prawn

I enjoyed my lunch, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more if my choices had played to the restaurant’s strengths rather than having being constrained by my conscience.

It also turned out that it takes more than 50 minutes to get back to what used to be G-mex from Northenden, and so I spent the next 49 minutes in a state of increasing anxiety at the prospect of missing the coach home. I eventually jumped out and grabbed a second taxi, and managed to arrive with approximately 6.517 seconds to spare. Phew!

My lunch –with a glass of home-made lemonade– cost just over £10, which was great value. Taxis and buses to and from Northenden came to approximately £27. Oops… I’d have been able to eat my way through quite a substantial part of the Yang Sing’s dim sum menu for the cost of the transport alone, but I know I’d have regretted not having tried out something new and exciting.

In summary, then, I’d very much recommend Mi and Pho, but I suggest that you should allow them to provide you with what they do best, which prolly isn’t a conscience-stricken semi-veggie’s version of the fantastic Vietnamese cuisine 🙂

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