I’ve only ever walked through the Corn Exchange once. Many many years ago. It completely bored me. I remember it being sparse, unimaginative with not much in there apart from the occasional art exhibition (the exhibits were always pretty good though).
From the moment we heard Pho Manchester was opening, this restaurant sparked controversy in our house. Mo and I battled it out on how to pronounce this restaurant’s name, our Fantastic Four whatsapp group even changed to ‘Foh’ or ‘Fuh’ whilst we both constantly pleaded cases to prove each other wrong. A quick tweet led to Pho showing this:
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a complete sucker for innovative promo material and I loved what Pho had come up with. Simple and effective, creating a good buzz around a restaurant that was out to impress. If that wasn’t enough, Pho is a family run business opened by two travellers, Stephen and Juliette Wall – what a great way to embody travel memories.
Lucky enough to bag a table at the soft launch, we marched swiftly round to the entrance and were surprised at how big the restaurant was. I imagined a café-style single floor occupant, but instead, it was a bare-brick, double-storied, high-ceiling area, with varied seating arrangements to suit all sorts of occasions. Very cool, very on-point, and after falling in love with their advertising, very Pho. Loved it.
This new addition was already coming up trumps and we hadn’t even got to the meal yet. I really had to slow down and pace myself.
We ordered a starter and a main each: Much Chien Gion (squid), Canh Ga (chicken wings), Goi Cuon (rice paper rolls), Cha Gio (vege spring rolls), Pho Ga (vietnamese noodle soup) and Com Tam (Broken rice served with a Vietnamese curry).
Sauces are already on the table, but some of the dishes came with their own special accompaniments. One of which was a peanut sauce – something I have always stayed well away from – but this one was fit!
Let’s just say, it wasn’t long after the starter plates were squashed onto the table that they had to be removed. We had devoured it all at some insane speed. Stand out dish – possibly of the whole night – was the Cha Gio. This dish will definitely be a staple order for when we visit.
My only comment on the main is, I did see a few people with some very fetching plastic bibs. Maybe this should be an option with any of the Pho dishes, as I did have a number of close calls with my pristine white jumper (what was I thinking wearing bright white to a restaurant!?!?)
Do I recommend it? Would I go back? Pho sure!!! (Like what I did there?)
I would go just to experience the different seating areas (I’m a bit strange like that).
I can imagine how nice it will be next summer, to sit outside and enjoy a mixture of starters for a light lunch with that amazing Gold Madonna (discovered this on my MCR tour) right opposite. Or taking a comfy seat in the inside terrace, looking out into the Corn Exchange atrium in the winter with a warm bowl of noodle soup.
This is definitely one of those places that deserves more than one visit. Oh, and all the cynical thoughts I had about opening so many restaurants in one building have been completely banished. If all other ventures are going to put in as much pazazz as Pho has done, it’s going to be epic.
Unit 15, The Corn Exchange, 37 Hanging Ditch,Manchester, M4 3TR
Any other must try Pho dishes for our next visit over? What does everyone else think of the Corn Exchange revamp?