New restaurants in Hong Kong: Pho Up, Central - limited menu of disappointing Vietnamese dishes
This Vietnamese restaurant has a bright theme and decor, but the limited choice on the menu is uninspiring. The dishes that were ordered were tasteless and badly cooked and were left unfinished at the end of the meal
In a city full of cheap and tasty Vietnamese restaurants, a good bowl of pho isn’t hard to come by.
When researching Pho Up before our visit, I discovered it had the same owners as 65 Peel Street, a trendy bar that is always packed. We entered the restaurant, with its unmissable neon sign, with high hopes.
The bright neon star outside is matched by an orange and lime green theme inside, along with hanging red lanterns.
At the entrance a dozen tables were spread out in front of an L-shaped bar looking into an open kitchen.
Despite the name of the restaurant, there were just three pho options on the limited menu, none of which sounded too appealing. The rest of the menu was made up of small plates, salads and spring rolls.
We weren’t sure what to choose, so the waitress recommended the signature pho bo: supreme beef noodles with raw beef, oxtail, beef balls and wagyu brisket (HK$88). We chose that and a small plate of roasted pork neck (HK$78) to share.
The dishes came out quickly. First came the pork neck which, presented on a leaf and topped with a chargrilled lime, looking inviting. We dug in using our orange and green chopsticks, dipping it into the spicy sauce. Pork neck needs to be cooked right to make it tender, which this was not – it was very chewy. At the end of the meal, half of the portion remained on the plate.
Next came the pho bo, topped with onion and greens. The bowl was large and the raw beef was tender but, unfortunately, the positives end there.
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We removed the oxtail, as it was mainly a chunk of bone, and tried the unappetising-looking beef balls. They were very tough and didn’t taste much like meat, so we left them too. The dark broth was warm, not hot, and the noodles were overcooked and clumped together at the bottom, making them hard to grasp. The broth lacked flavour.
Perhaps we didn’t choose well, or our pho wasn’t a good batch, but much of it was left in the bowl as we paid the bill and ventured to a nearby Lebanese spot to fill our stomachs.
Pho Up, On Lok Mansion, 39-43 Hollywood Rd, Central, tel: 2603 5208. Open: noon-10.30pm
While you’re in the area