The Spot: Not far from the main railway station, just off Le Duan at the western end of Nguyen Du (108), this modern pho establishment is a fine example of a trend I blogged about a little while ago. Dubbed 'Pho Quen' (not Queen), it's directly next door to a probable Polo Ralph Lauren imposter outlet, with the other main businesses in this street dealing in fire extinguishers and safety helmets.
Space and Atmosphere: Go upstairs to a mezzanine level or around behind the shiny new cash register (cash register, in a Hanoi pho house??...what happened to the old tea tin, or grubby cash-laden hanky tucked into ma's knickers???) and drinks bar to half a dozen or so tables on the ground floor. Be careful to dodge the fancily attired staff who are tripping over each other to be of assistance in that cheesy 'franchisy' way. I justed wanted to slap them.
Sticks, Condiments and Crockery: Clear, logo-stamped perspex boxes house the black plastic sticks and silver spoons, which have clearly been organized by someone with OCD. Symmetrical and spotless, they augment more clear vessels containing red sauce, chili-infused oil and garlic vinegar. A rather poor imitation of Pho 24's side plate of herbs, bean shoots, lime wedges and fresh chili arrives along with the paper placemats espousing this joint's flowery-worded philosophy. If I translated it, you'd vomit!
Serving Station: A glass walled booth left of the entrance, with a serving window where the noodles are dispensed to the waiting staff. Marble benchtops, plastic gloves and tupperware containers abound, the chefs look the part in starched white and there is no evidence of animal carcass or organ visible to the eye. This is doctor's clinic pho, portioned with precision, lacking feel.
Meat Generosity: The scales ensure that all customers receive one of their daily recommended meat allotments - no more, no less!
Service to Delivery Gap: With staff out-numbering customers, there was no problem in this regard.
Stock Factor: Slightly murky but tasty enough.
Cost: I'm paying for the salubrious (and orange!) surroundings here. Well over the industry average, in the 20,000s.
Rank: I'm loath to continue the ranking system, other than to say this bowl of noodles is nothing special.
Belated Seasons Greetings! I've been in Oz, pouring loads of wine down my throat and over-indulging in foods not freely available in the Hanoi streets! Hope the coming year is kind.