Shop 1303, 13/F, Times Square
Causeway Bay (other branches around Hong Kong)
Tel: 2506 2220
Grub: Traditional Vietnamese
Vibe: This branch in particular is modern, clean and spacious. You may be ordering street food, but that doesn’t mean you have to stand outside breathing exhaust.
Who to take: It’s about 5 metres from the door of the Times Square cinema, so it’s perfect for a pre- or post-movie meal, whether you’re with your squad or a date. Or come with the family: there are big tables, and a huge menu, so you should be able to keep everyone happy.
What’s hot: The range of dishes. There are the regulars – pho, banh mi, bun, or cold noodles – which are all deliciously executed, but there are also loads of options that you might not have tried before.
Don’t miss the beef brisket curry, even if you think you don’t like curry: it’s tender and almost impossibly fragrant thanks to its intense (but never overpowering) blend of spices. Pan-seared stuffed squid is like taking a beach holiday in your belly; and the grilled beef salad has a wonderfully tangy dressing, and manages to be refreshing despite the pile of meat.
In fact, all the salads are a welcome addition to the menu. Unlike Thai salads, which can often be too spicy to be refreshing, the options here – pomelo and two massive grilled prawns, crunchy lotus stem, the traditional cabbage and chicken – are flavoursome yet subtle, and complement any main dish.
The pho, whether you prefer chicken or beef, is highly flavoured, but not overpowering, and your bowl comes filled to the brim with meat and perfectly al dente noodles.
What’s not: It is a big space – a very big space, so it can feel a little impersonal. You may find yourself unintentionally listening in to your neighbours’ conversation, and you know they’re hearing what you’re talking about, too.
Again, the set-up and numbers of customers means the service can be a little brusque.
If you have a sweet tooth, you may be disappointed: pandan coconut sticky rice is the only option.
Cost: Starters, snacks and rice paper rolls are HK$58-HK$118, salads are HK$70-HK$90, banh mi are HK$54, pho are HK$60-HK$96. Mains are HK$78-HK$238, sides HK$15-HK$42, drinks HK$26-HK$45.