Pho off! No, I have no issues using the f word in my blog but if you think that is what I mean but is too bashful to spell it properly, you need to give your brains a good soaping! What I meant is the next 2 blogs will be about Pho, the Vietnamese noodle dish. Then I will follow up with a blog comparing the two based on a set of made up criteria to see which fare better. I’m going to try out the lesser known new kid in town (or so I think they are) and the high street chain which you will read about tommorrow.
Hop-Namo, the Vietnamese eatery is the spinoff of Namo at Victoria Park Road which itself is the sister restaurant of Huong Viet. Don’t know about you, but it is beginning to feel lika an episode of Who Do You Think You Are! Both Namo and Hop-Namo style themselves as traditional vietnamese with a modern twist so I will mentally prepare myself for it to not be the real thing. Hop-Namo is located in Shoreditch Boxpark and there seems to be loads of bad vibe about this place. Yes, I know it’s meant to showcase individual, edgy outlets but instead it’s filled with pretty well-known brand names. C’mon, anything is better than wasteland no?
The decor of Hop-Namo is quite rustic and manages to disguise the fact that you are in a container. There are several recycled wooded crates on caster wheels under the wall seats. Not too sure what’s in them, extra cutlery perhaps? The menu is a good representation of basic Vietnamese street food and ranges from Banh Mi, Goi (Salad), Pho (choice of meat or tofu) and a few curries. A daily specials board is also available and the 2 dishes that caught my eye today was a Special Beef Curry and Grilled Pork Balls with Lemongrass.
Seeing this review is about Pho, I ordered the Pho with rump steak (Pho Bo) and 2 summer rolls, 1 with shreadded five spice duck the other with prawns. The Pho is £6.50 while the summer rolls are £1.50 each. At a total of £9.50, not breaking the bank but not cheap either.
The summer rolls are what they are so I will not write much about them except they are a tad small for £1.50. I do like the small container they come in though, cute. So how is the Pho? I hate to say this but I don’t like it. Seeing a thick wedge of lemon in the broth when I first open the container is a bad omen, it should be lime, never lemon! The most important thing about Pho is the broth. It should be a nice balance of anisey and beefiness yet have a fresh and clean after taste. The version at Hop-Namo is too overpowering with a strong aftertaste of black pepper and definitely way too salty. Coming from me aka Ms Salty Queen, that’s bad. I’m quite surprised that the thicker version of rice noodles is used. They are not bad, just not typical in Pho. I was only expecting sliced beef rump but was surprised to also find 2 minced beef balls with grilled marks. The beef rump was sliced unevenly, most of them too thick making them rather chewy. They also have a strange lemongrass taste. I think they have been marinated. The beef balls are a disappointment. Once again, too much pepper!. Other condiments include bean sprouts, coriander, julienne carrots and daikon.
Will I go back to Hop-Namo again, perhaps to try the other dishes, but definitely not the Pho. Too much of a modern twist for me.
Units 48 & 49
Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6GY
0207 729 9723