6 Bigg Market
Newcastle upon Tyne
0191 233 0766
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“What’s your favourite food?” they used to ask me at primary school.
Back then it was chips and Walls pork sausages (mine was a simple childhood of modest pleasures). Now, the list has grown a bit, but most of the items are still pretty straightforward: a creamy risotto with white Alba truffle, a single slice of sourdough adorned with fresh crab, almost anything involving crispy pig. But up there in my gastronomic Mount Olympus there would definitely be one seriously good noodle soup.
Vietnamese pho, when done well, is a seriously good noodle soup. The trick is to produce an all-healing broth that is both light in body and singing with flavour. Bones are simmered for hours while onions and ginger are blackened into rich, caramel flavours. Add cloves, cinnamon and star anise to lend the thing its sing-song top notes, and I’m in soup heaven.
There are regional variations, of course, and various meats may be used, but when pho is good, it’s phab. Which is what I was hoping for when I met a visiting friend off the train and we headed for dinner at Saigon, the revamped Vietnamese restaurant in Newcastle’s Bigg Market.