There aren’t many problems that can’t be remedied with a pho. Got the flu? Pho. Riddled with a hangover? Pho. Just been dumped by the love of your life? Pho. It’s an addictive trifecta of meaty broth, chewy rice noodles and crunchy herbs, that cannot help but soothe the soul.

The iconic Vietnamese noodle soup (spelled phở in its Anglicised form pronounced “fuh”) is a national obsession and is thought to originate from the pot au feu casserole, introduced to Vietnam by French colonists. Although a recent addition to Vietnam's culinary landscape, the whole country now runs on it. And you can’t blame them.

Despite the absence of the kind of hole-in-the-wall pho vendors seen in Vietnam, London certainly boasts some excellent Vietnamese restaurants of its own. We’ve pulled together our expertise (inspired in part by a three-week stint in Hanoi and several hangovers), to collate this guide to the very best pho in London.

Bookmark this guide for your next wintery weekend in the capital.

Viet Grill

58 Kingsland Rd, E2 8DP

Located on the ‘Pho Mile’ of Shoreditch – AKA Kingsland Road – the folks at Viet Grill certainly have some stiff competition. But with the choice of ten different pho on the menu, including an outrageous 24-hour beef bone marrow stock, they needn’t worry. Adorned with palm tree wallpaper and red leather chairs, Viet Grill makes noodle soup with flavours as bold as its interior décor choices. With a vast menu of reasonably priced classics including rolls, salads, vermicelli bowls, cocktails and (of course) pho, you’re spoilt for choice. Needless to say, ordering the thigh and drumstick chicken pho, made with a 12-hour slow-cooked chicken broth and topped with tender chicken thigh, crunchy beansprouts, chilli, and lemon, is non-negotiable. A couple of lychee martinis won’t hurt either.

Song Que Café

134 Kingsland Rd, E2 8DY

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Song Que is the kind of restaurant that doesn’t feel the need to hide its fax machine, or its mop and bucket, because it lets the food do the talking. Heralded as one of the best vietnamese restaurants in London by the renowned asian food connoisseur Rollin Joint, Song Que doesn’t mess around when it comes to serving up some top-class pho. The broth at Song Que, made from choice cuts of beef simmered for hours, is really quite special. If you’re feeling adventurous the combo beef pho is a must – tripe, tendon and flank (all the good stuff), served with broth, rice noodles, basil leaves and fresh chilli. If that seems a bit too Hannibal Lecter, then the rare sliced steak pho and chicken pho are failsafe options. Plus, with more than 170 dishes on the menu it's pretty much impossible not to find something you like.

Hai Café

20b Lower Clapton Rd, E5 0QR

Sometimes life's most gratifying meals are made in the smallest of kitchens. Hai Café is one of these places. With around a dozen covers sat on wooden stools, Hai might be small, but it serves up some big flavours. You know when the menu says the pho broth is cooked by someone's mum, AKA Mama Hai, that you’re in safe hands. At Hai there are four choices of pho: beef balls and shin, tofu, chicken and prawns, as well as bun bo hue. There’s also other classic dishes (curry, banh mi, summer rolls, etc.) and some exciting daily specials including a Vietnamese lasagne. At just £10 for a bowl of pho it's incredible value. The only issue is trying to get hold of it. Opening just Weds to Sat (6-10pm) and seating only a few covers, expect a queue out the door.

Mien Tay

Various Locations

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Mien Tay brings a slice of South West Vietnam to Shoreditch, Fulham and Wood Green. It’s a hangover-worthy combination of BYOB, steaming bowls of pho and floor-to-ceiling bamboo, founded by My Lee and chef Su Tran. And don’t just take our word for it, even Benedict Cumberbatch has taken a trip here. Setting you back just over a tenner (with a complimentary bowl of prawn crackers), a bowl of their Pho Tai Nam, consisting of a deeply restorative, spiced beef broth, big tangle of rice noodles, and slivers of rare steak will have you conclude everything is right with the world. If pho isn’t your thing (although we're not sure why you’d still be reading this article if it isn't), it also offers a huge selection of iconic Vietnamese dishes, including bun hue, papaya salads and traditional curries. Plus, corkage costs £2.50 per person on Sunday to Thursday and £3 on Friday to Saturday, party on.

Bun Bun Bun

Various Locations

It is common knowledge to Londoners that Kingsland Road is a gold mine for Vietnamese food, and Bun Bun Bun is another jewel to its crown with two sites on this iconic stretch. Although Bun Bun Bun specialises in bun cha Hanoi (steamed rice vermicelli noodles served with lemongrass grilled meats), they are also serving up some big and hearty bowls of pho. Bun Bun Bun opts for more minimalist and modern decor when compared to its neighbours, going for simple wooden tables, exposed light bulbs and a neon pink sign. That said, the food is far from plain. Choose between six different pho including beef in many forms (steak, flank, tendon and balls), as well as chicken (breast and leg), seafood and tofu. If you want to switch it up from flat rice noodle, the restaurant also served bun bo hue, as well as banh da cua, a Haiphong style crab noodle soup with pork in betel leaves. With zingy and fresh flavours, large portions, small prices and a BYO policy, you’d be a fool not to give it a try.

Green Papaya

91 Mare St, E8 3QE

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Green Papaya is a no frills Xi’Viet restaurant, which is long-established, family run and much-adored. Much like its fusion cuisine, expect an eclectic customer base from Hackney hipsters to families of tourists, all slurping in harmony. Green Papaya makes its pho broth using veal bone, oxtail and chicken broth simmered for eight hours, so be prepared to take a trip to umami town. There’s a choice of rare or well done beef, chicken, prawn and tofu pho crammed with chewy noodles and crunchy herbs (although bear in mind all pho is served with a meat-based broth, so it's not vegetarian). On top of this, it also offers classic dishes from the Xi'an region in China, such as cumin beef, dan dan noodles and zha jiang noodles. So, head down to Mare Street for seriously satisfying food and incredibly gratifying prices.


Various Locations

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When you think 'restaurant chain', it’s easy to shudder as you remember that meal you endured at Franky & Benny’s in 2009. But thankfully, chains have moved on, and Pho is one of the best of them. Since opening its first Pho Café in 2005, the group has been serving consistently fresh, affordable and good-quality Vietnamese food to the masses, with several restaurants dotted around the capital, including its newest opening in Battersea Rise. Some menu highlights include the sinus-clearing hot and spicy chicken soup, served with perfectly cooked noodles and a side plate of fresh herbs. What’s more is that the group offers meat-free (but umami-rich) vegan and vegetarian pho, including a wonderfully savoury three-mushroom pho, made with enoki, shiitake and button mushrooms. It’s so good we’d take a bath in it.