Pho Oxford Circus (August 2012)

Absolutely perfect for a quick lunch at very reasonable prices. To find somewhere with such high quality – and differentiated – food so close to the chaos of Oxford Street is highly satisfying. Pho does not do pretention (basic decor and slightly tatty menus, staff dressed very casually), but this adds to the effect. It feels very much like a ‘local’ restaurant, perhaps much more suited to a back street in Hackney than its actual location, and it was a highly encouraging sign that we were among the distinct minority, as suit-wearing westerners. My dining comrade and I were immediately made to feel welcome and the menu was clearly explained to us. Rather than offering a wide and confusing range of potentially daunting options, there was a clear focus on broths. Staff were very happy to allow us to customise ours with extras. The food arrived promptly and was a delight to eat, very strong emphasis on fresh ingredients and highly flavoursome. The provision of paper bibs for those less dextrous at eating soups with a ladle and chopsticks was also a welcome touch! Full marks to Pho and miles ahead of yesterday's lunch destination (Novikov). Whereas Novikov tries and fails to be all things Asian to those who want to be seen, Pho sticks to what matters, good food, served quickly and efficiently to anyone who ventures to find it.