Café Annam is a wonder on dining row: how can any restaurant survive on Elgin Street by making $58 bowls of noodles? Turns out, by slashing their prices they’ve undercut all of their competitors, including other Vietnamese diners, and that’s something that draws people in.
The space of former occupant Havana has been kept quite intact, with its romantic post-colonial feel, grand entrance, and woven chairs. It could almost be Hanoi. But as soon as the appetisers came out, we started to understand why the dishes were so cheap: the deep-fried spring rolls ($58) tasted like pillows of grease, with their skins half crisp, half dough. The fillings did not leave any sort of impression, and the dipping sauce: out of a can. Our fellow diner received his main of grilled pork neck and rice vermicelli ($52) long before our other mains arrived. Luckily, it was meant to be eaten at room temperature, and the pork was fan-freakin-tastic. The noodles and vegetables were fine, too.
Another 15 minutes elapsed before the raw beef pho ($52) arrived. Its broth was pure but too light – it needed the help of fresh chillies and lime to make it taste of anything – and the thin slices of not so well cooked beef stuck together as if they were still frozen. We polished it all off, at least filling our bellies with warming soup and noodles, but all of this definitely didn’t satisfy our hunger for a real authentic pho, not matter how much more it would cost.
G/F, 35 Elgin St, Soho, 2545 9966. Daily noon- midnight. Meal for two: around $150.
|Venue name:||CafeAnnam (CLOSED)|
G/F, 35 Elgin St, Soho