I visited Pho for lunch today…it is a Vietnamese fast food chain. I think I had the hot & spicy chicken noodle broth last time. I don’t even know why I got it…I know I don’t like noodle-y soups. For me, noodles taste good coated in a lovely sauce – not dropped into a watery broth. I get pulled in because I see others around me enjoying this meal so much…but it never works for me. To be honest, I think I would like the broth its own, it is usually so flavoursome…it’s just the noodle part that I have been unable to get my head around. I need to remember this next time I am about to get sucked in.
This time I wanted something healthy and low-carb, so I opted for the shredded chicken salad. The description of this dish on their menu is ‘shredded chicken salad with Asian herbs, peppers & a chilli ginger dressing.’ When I was ordering, I thought to myself, I am sure there are other ingredients in this salad perhaps which have been left out of that description?! But no, the food came and it was literally just that. It has julienne-d carrot, peppers, cabbage, red onion and bits of coriander, and not forgetting the finely-shredded chicken. It comes with some dried onion sprinkled over the top and the dressing in a small bowl to the side. But that, pretty much, is it. Now, for me, that isn’t an £8 main meal-worthy salad – it’s more like a slaw or a side. They also do a version without the chicken (also as a main) for a little bit cheaper – I would strongly advise against this meal option if you are a veggie. The only bit of substance in my salad was the chicken – so to omit that – you are really not left with anything substantial enough to call lunch. I would argue that what you are left with is essentially a slaw – so to pay around £7 for that Even veggie salads can have substance; think tofu, cheese, mushrooms, falafel, avocado (okay I know not all of those ingredients lend themselves to Vietnamese cuisine…but some do!) I would be so disappointed if I was a veggie and went out to eat and that came out for me…in fact, I would be so appalled that I would probably start eating meat there and then. You get the jist. I am sure there are far better options for veggies on the menu.
The chicken one was not too bad to be honest; it did taste quite nice. And it was surprisingly filling for essentially a stack of carrots and cabbage. But, the other major thing for me was that this was such a pain to eat…you will get an array of long bits of carrot/onion/cabbage dangling out of your mouth as you take each mouthful. Not pretty. Not elegant. Please avoid this if you are in any potentially embarrassing situation – this is definitely not dating food. Stay well away.
So overall, this was quite tasty; I am a massive fan of quintessential South East Asian flavours. However, I can rustle up something quite similar to this dish with my julienne peeler at home… For me, the veggie version is something that I would wholeheartedly advise against. The chicken one at least packs some protein…but it is perhaps too simple (the chicken wasn’t even marinated). At this price I would probably not purchase again.