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I Am Pho Reviewed

Gordo gets macho with the chillies but falls for the pho

Published on August 8th 2012.

I Am Pho Reviewed

THE Editor asked The Fat One to try out a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant on George Street, next to Long Legs. A lap dancing bar with a good deal more lap going on than dancing, if Gordo’s memory serves him right. Which is not to be trusted nine years after starting upon the mission that was his blog and is now good old ManchesterConfidential.co.uk.

It’s like fat-free spam. An acquired taste for Westerners, served with a fat slice of cucumber.

The Vietnamese have a saying that success has many fathers. Even so, Gordo is continually surprised by the number of people who come up to him and say, “Eh, Gordo, you never told me it was 'X' who really set up Confidential.”

Well, that’s because Gordo didn’t know that 'X' had. Because either he can't remember or he’s a twat. 'X' that is, not Gordo. Anyway 'X', you know who you are, please go and seek help.

In the meantime, Gordo can thoroughly recommend Long Legs.

Oh, sorry, it’s about I Am Pho this, innit.

Pho is the famous street soup that can become highly addictive when you find a good one. Alongside its cousin Bun, it’s made of first-rate stock, with loads of bits and pieces as standard, along with noodles. Pho’s being flat and Bun’s vermicelli.

Vietnamese SaladVietnamese Salad

You are then given the option of adding pork, chicken, beef or prawns. You can then move up the heat, saltiness or indeed sweetness by using the condiments normally hanging around on the table like a bottle of HP in a builder’s café.

I Am Pho makes a couple of its own; the hoisin sauce and the beef paste. This is a sign of a very good gaff. Additionally, bean sprouts, basil and another vegetable, a hard-core salad leaf called 'saw' are delivered. Pho imports the saw and the basil from Vietnam. The saw is a must. Less of a must are the chopped red bird's eye ring-burner chillies. If you are English and normal, you should endeavor to leave these out.

Gordo was being a bit too macho with the condiments. He came a cropper but cured his cold.

I Am Pho CondimentsI Am Pho Condiments

The restaurant is actually a café serving Vietnamese street food, the mainstay being great big bowls of the soup noodle stuff. The cooking is first rate, presentation is good and the service spot on.

Gordo is ever amazed at how lovely the Vietnamese are as a race. When he lived in St Tropez, a famous Vietnamese restaurant in Paris used to decamp to Pampelonne Beach, where they set up shop in the dunes for two months every summer serving Indochine food.

Indochine as a cuisine is heavily influenced by the French, who tried to be the colonial masters of Vietnam for many years. They (the French) never really pulled it off. The Vietnamese of course are well known for never really allowing any colonial power to beat them for over a thousand years; China, Thailand, France and then America all learnt their lesson.

The thing is, there are no hard feelings from them; business is business and even the lunatic genocidal Yanks are welcomed back if they have dollars in their pockets.

Nem Cuon TomNem Cuon Tom

The boys and girls in I Am Pho are a delight; the pleasure they take in explaining what the dishes are, and how best to deal with them, is truly lovely. The pride is self-evident. Mind you, the décor is a bit too much dentist’s waiting room in cream for Gordo, very bright. You definitely wouldn’t be getting in the mood for an opium pipe down here.

Summer rolls (£4.80) are delicate rice paper filled with glowing health, as well as lettuce, fresh herbs and rice vermicelli. We had prawns in ours as well. Sharp, fresh flavour was the result. Oh yes, served with a belting, home-made peanut sauce, easily the best Gordo has had and that includes several down in Shoreditch.

Gordo had to order Fermented pork (£4.50) simply because it sounded foul. Basically pork that had been chopped and cooked and left hanging about in the chiller for some time. It’s like fat-free spam. An acquired taste for Westerners, served with a fat slice of cucumber. You should try it once. You may like it.

I Am Pho Fermented Pork Fermented Pork

The Glaswegian across the table ordered Mi Hoanh Thanh, wonton noodles in chicken stock with wonton dumplings (£7.50) which had a nice velvety consistency; alongside its superior stock, this was soothing in the extreme. Again, the Vietnamese show class. With clear flavours and a great knack for mixing them, every one has a chance to shine.

Whilst this cuisine is not high end Indochine, you can tell the influence from France in the way that Viet cooks handle stocks, herbs and spices to ensure that everything they add is there for a purpose.

We drank a couple of bottles of Hanoi Beer. This on its own is worth the visit, drink nothing else.

We like I Am Pho. It’s better than Long Legs.

Hanoi BeerHanoi Beer

The Min DishesaThe Min Dishesa

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @GordoManchester


I Am Pho, 44 George Street , City. M1 4HF. 0161 236 1230

Rating 13.5/20

Food 7/10

Service 4/5

Ambience 2.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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45 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

NeilAugust 8th 2012.

Better than Long Legs? Now there's a claim!

They also do banh mi - Vietnamese sandwiches that knock the socks off any other lunch in central Manchester. They're a taste sensation.

James KayAugust 8th 2012.

So... Food is 'first rate', service is 'a delight' but the ambience renders it worthy of a visit only 'if you're passing'. I bet the owners were getting really excited until they saw the 'out of 20' score.
Go on... get 'em up to 'worth a trip'!! Come on Gordo!

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 9th 2012.

James, you are right; there is a flaw in the scoring system here, Schofield and I have been debating it for three years, it falls down when you are dealing with very basic outlets that serve stunning food like I am Pho. We shall address it, but the key thing is the food score, 7/10 is deffo worth a visit.

DavidAugust 8th 2012.

It is both insulting and ridiculous to describe the Americans as 'lunatic genocidal yanks'.The Americans certainly committed atrocities in Vietnam but unlike the lunatic genocidal Brits they did not invent the concentration camp,and put thousands of Afrikaans,women and children in them,as your country did Gordo,during the Boer Wars.
Also if this ignorant writer went to Vietnam
He would find Americans and Vietnamese have very good relations and also that hardly any young person speaks French.Vietnamese hostility is reserved for the Chinese who occupied their country for centuries and imposed their language and culture.

16 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 9th 2012.

David, happy to publish your comments, but don't like the 'ignorant' bit; For a start, have you read "A Bright Shining Lie"?

Neil PhillipsAugust 9th 2012.

If its a contest of historic atrocities, USA v GB, I'd like to throw in Hiroshima for openers .

Tim EvansAugust 9th 2012.

Or, why not mention the native American Indians, who were lied to, had their land stolen, were slaughtered & stuck on "reservations". Slavery until 1865, segregation and lynchings until the mid-1960s. Great eh.

DavidAugust 9th 2012.

Why not mention the Irish Famine And Oliver Cromwell,why not mention British massacres in Kenya and Malaya,why not mention all those natives in Australia,New Zealand,and Africa who had their land stolen by the British settlers,why not mention all those slaves the British took from West Africa,that created great wealth for cities like Liverpool.Of course you Tim would not like being blamed for every sin of Britains past.But you want to indulge your ant-American bigotry just like Gordo.

Neil PhillipsAugust 10th 2012.

Why not fuck off ?

Neil PhillipsAugust 10th 2012.

How very random to throw in the invention of concentration camps to evidence that that UK is worse than USA when it comes to war crimes.
The thing is, mist if the bad shit that Britain has done is in days long gone. USA had committed much worse, and with every passing day adds to that tally in their crusade against Islam .
Non of this matters though because the typical American is a Yee hah good old boy. Go USA ! Land if the free ? Home of the brave ? Really ?

DavidAugust 10th 2012.

Neil your just a bigot.But you think your delusions are acceptable because they anti-American.I would not blame you personally for the past sins of GB,you were not personally responsible.I would not blame a German for the holocaust or a Chinese for their government policy in Tibet.Why don't you join the BNP Neil I am sure they would appreciate someone like you,if only you could just embrace Jews into your irrational embrace of hatred.

DavidAugust 10th 2012.

Also Neil who is responsible for the mess in Palestine?.Oh yeah it was a British colony.Who was it who tried to seize back the Suez Canal by force from Egypt,those Brits again.You also overthrew the government of Iran to protect your oil interests in 1953.So do not pretend you are any better than USA or anyone else.

DavidAugust 10th 2012.

Also Neil you mention the Crusades.SomethingI believe you Brits also took part in,but not any Americans.

Justin MorrisAugust 11th 2012.

The longer you exist the more people you insult. This is a truism. The Uk and all it's different forms have invaded, plundered, massacred, divided, and basically pissed off all of the world. Even our closest allies hate us. For goodness sake most of the British hate the idea of Britain. This we have done in a millenium of history. The USA have managed the same level of hatred in just under a fifth of this. So we should just congratulate USA. Most hated in the least length of time.

PS to bring the Crusades up - you silly boy David. You seem to be making up for lost time . And Palestine. Wow. Your fault. Read some history. We had it. You forced Israel on us all.

Neil PhillipsAugust 11th 2012.

Actually David, much as I'd love you to carry on in your world of paranoid delusion, I am far from anti American. I am however anti dick head, which is where you and your ill conceived philosophies come in. The last poster hit the nail on the head, USA has more than made up for lost time and is now top of the western leader table of bad shit done and being done, plenty of it in the name of Israel .

DavidAugust 11th 2012.

Is the USA the most hated country..Judging my the number of people who want to get US citizenship,I don't think so.
Neil you have no idea about USA,I doubt you ever been there in your life.You are the sort of Brit who says everything your country does,is not in your name.That you are not responsible for.But when it comes to Americans you suggest it the responsibility of ordinary Americans.Ordinary Americans who elected Obama as President.Not something that likely to happen in good old UK.Not with people like you Neil.

Neil PhillipsAugust 13th 2012.

David, you're a deluded prick

DavidAugust 13th 2012.

Neil is that the best you can do?.In the end all you can offer is swearing and abuse.I bet you cry very easily,being as your such a soft lad.

Neil PhillipsAugust 14th 2012.

That's right.

Neil PhillipsAugust 14th 2012.

It's a matter of historical fact the Americans are softer than Brits. And bigger cry babies too.
Check your history.

AnonymousAugust 8th 2012.

WTF is that first bit about who started Confidential in a food review? Who cares? I just want to read a food review.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 9th 2012.

Thank you for that Anon, but if you wish to read my food reviews, you have to put up with my ramblings. Have a great day!

BLR_3August 9th 2012.

Who gives a shit about ambience. I want good food and service. That's it.

Place looks tremendous. Can't wait to visit. I wanna have a go with the chillies!

UrbanefoxAugust 9th 2012.

I just 'discovered' Pho recently on a holiday to Oz. It's delicious.
I was wondering if I could eat it back home, but hadn't been won over after ordering it from takeaways. I cannot wait to give this place a go. Thanks!

pollolocoAugust 9th 2012.

Top top place...went Monday lunchtime with a killer hangover for a bowl of Pho, extra chilli......the business.

Katherine MooreAugust 9th 2012.

They also do bagettes to eat in or take away at lunchtime. They are amazing; crusty bread, fresh coriander, pickled carrots and a choice of beef/chicken/pork/Vietnamese sausage for £2.99.

Josaphine FordAugust 9th 2012.

I had lunch here today and both the food and service was excellent - would highly recommend!

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

I believe Nick Jaspan can handle all 4 of Pho's homemade sauces without perspiring.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 9th 2012.

<laughing my bollocks off> good one anon, bit of a private joke but worth it!

GordoAugust 9th 2012.

LOL dead funny anon, come again :-)

ChiAugust 9th 2012.

Worst review I've ever read in my entire life. I don't actually need to you tell me how to eat Vietnamese food or food in general. I feel like you are insulting the readers inteligentce. I am Vietnamese if it matters.

What's with all this non-sense about Long Legs and Confidential? It's like sitting in front of a guy on the first date when he tries his ass off to be funny but all you could think of is "this guy is so boring, how can I get out of here?"

The review shows a complete lack of knowledge of Vietnam, Vietnamese food, food, restaurant, travelling experience and most of all a sense of humour.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
Daniel GraingerAugust 9th 2012.

Not a Guardian reader are you Chi by any chance?.....

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

Hear hear Chi, couldn't agree more

GordoAugust 9th 2012.

Excellent Chi, I couldn't agree more! I am crap. However, you may want to remember that you are in Manchester, a place where a lot of people don't understand a lot about Vietnamese cooking, so please forgive me. However, I am a little surprised to hear that you are Vietnamese, i haven't met many rude and obnoxious members of your people...

Raymond WeilAugust 9th 2012.

Chi, I bet you don't get many second dates ;-)

MaggieAugust 10th 2012.


AVOAugust 13th 2012.

I'm Vietnamese and people tell me that I'm rude and obnoxious.

GordoAugust 14th 2012.

You, Avo, as always are the exception that proves the rule ;-

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

Not a Guardian reader by any chance are you Chi?......

AnonymousAugust 9th 2012.

Whats being a Guardian reader got to do with anything. Why Daniel / Anonymous, are you a Daily Telegraph reader, a Racing Post reader? What the hell does that matter? Have you got a more intelligent riposte to Chi's post?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Raymond WeilAugust 9th 2012.

Anon, relax man. It's an joke, Gordo's been getting truly battered in the Guardian Online posts, its as funny as fuck. Gordo, congrats, you appear to have annoyed the Viets and Yanks in equal measure. Thought the review pretty interesting myself I am going for lunch tomorrow now I know what to do with a pho.

AMBAugust 10th 2012.

The review was an entertaining read, but these comments are even better. Thank you to everyone for your contributions (including the uptight xenophobes), you really brightened by lunch hour!

Javier GarciaAugust 11th 2012.

What da

Linh PhamAugust 13th 2012.

If it's true that man only thinks of 2 things then to say the food was more sastisfying than Long Legs , that say's a lot for the food, that's a man with good priorities. (^_^)

AnonymousOctober 21st 2012.

One of the funniest things I've ever read - the whole thing. I'm going to this restaurant this week. If I meet any rude and obnoxious Vietnamese people I'll let you all know. And if I meet any over protective Americans I'll also be in touch. "David, you're a deluded prick"- priceless.

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