I Am Pho
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Going against the Chinatown grain, this cheerful Vietnamese has a great handle on the classics. Grab a lunchtime bánh mì baguette for just £3
Before I Am Pho's arrival, Vietnamese cuisine had been missing from Manchester's pan-Asian Chinatown restaurant scene. Aiming to plug that gap with a back-to-basics approach, I Am Pho took up residence in a downstairs canteen on George Street. While the atmosphere inside is perfectly acceptable, with polite and attentive staff, it’s obvious that ambience has never been the number one concern; lighting seems to vary from extremely low level one night to almost blinding the next and wall decorations are at their most simple and stereotypical. However, as is often the case, this is a reassuring scenario, leaving the food as the main focus.
The vast majority of Vietnamese favourites are represented here. Nem cuốn tôm (summer rolls) are fresh and the prawns within avoid the rubberiness that they are susceptible to. Nem chua is an option for the more adventurous eaters, the fermented pork sausage hits sweet, salty, sour and spicy receptors in one go. Bánh mì, the classic baguette sandwiches are available to go and make for a cheap and filling lunch at just £3, with an array of filling options alongside the customary supporting cast of carrot, daikon and coriander.
It's worth noting that the restaurant's namesake pho options are rather large and would comfortably feed two if accompanied by sides. The clear broth can be accompanied by an array of meats, including raw beef or sliced chicken and there's a tofu and mushroom option, served with a vegetarian stock. The broth can be adjusted to taste with the provided fresh coriander, chillies, lime and tray of chilli oil, fish/soy/hoisin sauces and beef paste. In the pork department, the com thit kho (lean pork braised in fish sauce and served with rice) and bún thit nuong (barbecued pork skewers) with noodles are both excellent and less heavy than the huge broths.