Ever since Ho Sen in Temple Bar closed down a few years ago there had been no exclusively Vietnamese restaurant in Dublin and, of the various pan-Asian offerings in the city, only Saba served the famous Vietnamese soup pho (Neon were selling something labelled as such but they’ve since, correctly, rebranded it as Thai Beef Noodle Soup).
This has all changed with the opening of Pho Viet on Parnell Street (there’s also another new place called Aobaba on Capel Street), which aside from serving many different versions of pho also has various Vietnamese rice and noodle dishes. While the main reason we were there was for the soup we also ordered a starter of banh xeo, a sort of savoury pancake made with rice flour and stuffed with prawns, beansprouts and pork, and it was outstanding.
The main varieties of the restaurant’s pho are defined by the types of beef each contain and are basically various combination of thinly sliced rare beef, meatballs, flank steak and brisket. Something to note about Vietnamese meatballs is that they have quite a strange texture as they are made from a pounded meat paste thus making them completely solid; this can take a bit of getting used to.
Even though I didn’t order any there were still some of these meatballs in my soup: I’m pretty sure the waiter made a mistake but I didn’t really mind because the pale, clear broth is the real focus here and it was fantastic, not overly beefy but wonderfully fragrant. The portion size is very generous too and at €6.90 a go it’s great value. We both left stuffed and for two starters, two mains and free tea the whole meal came in at under €25 including tip. As I said, great value.