Banh Mi Review, Pho Brunch

Banh Mi - Pho Brunch, Commercial Street, London

ABout Pho Brunch

63 Commercial St, London E1 6BD

I went to London yesterday and had a lunch spot in mind. I didn’t know anything about Pho Brunch or the food they serve, but I’d walked past them on a previous visit and that day, I’d seen an a-board out front, advertising a lunch deal.

When midday hit, I left the office and it felt nice to get outside, rather than simply migrating upstairs to the canteen. There’s nothing wrong with the food on the 15th floor but London abounds with well-priced deliciousness, if you know where to look.

Banh Mi isn’t something that I often eat but I should because I like it. I’d been craving Vietnamese food for the past few weeks and thinking back to the last time I had some. In the spring of 2020, I was out in Sydney for a friend’s wedding. It was days before Covid got serious and with time to spare, I walked around Surrey Hills, looking for food. Back then, I was happy and relieved to be away from work and found a little place serving Banh Mi and providing shelter from the sun. I carried those memories with me yesterday as I walked through Aldgate in the lunchtime heat and thought about how different life now was.

Pho Brunch is a tiny place on Commercial Road with space for about 20. The menu is simple; a mix of classic Vietnamese dishes including Pho. I arrived behind two tables of two and watched as plates of fragrant rice, vegetables and meat were delivered to the hungry patrons in trousers and shirts.

Everything on the menu looked good but I had my heart set on Banh Mi and ordered one filled with pork. At £7.50, the Banh Mi felt at once expensive and a bargain. London can be confusing in that way.

When it arrived, the Banh Mi had a decent weight and comprised a light, crisp baguette, BBQ pork, vermicelli noodles, carrot, coriander and fresh red chillis. In terms of freshness and quality, it was infinitely better than the sad sandwich meal deals that I saw other people carrying back to their offices and I felt vindicated for trying something new.

After paying, I took the Banh Mi away from Pho Brunch and ate it in a sunny square close by. From the first to the last bite, the mix of flavours and textures was an utter delight and sitting, eating and watching the chaos of the traffic, I felt better about the world. The Banh Mi from Pho Brunch was one of those perfect meals where everything you have is everything you need and the taste transports you to a simpler time.