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Pho Sweet Basil

by Krista

Pho sweet basil outside

Pho Sweet Basil
7 Kingsland Road
E2 8AH

Date of Last Visit: Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The Victims: Gerry, Ben, Matt, Carolyn

The Damage: Cheap! Like maybe £15 each. Maybe.

The Background: It was one of those random days, and a rare one too with the sun shining. We dropped by The Wenlock and tried out some ales, sitting in their "garden" (read: field across the street). I admired the "new" floor. (i.e., They've finally  pulled up the grody carpet.) And then we wanted to check out the fire which was still smoldering over Hackney–and somehow we found ourselves wandering around the back streets behind Old Street, on our way to Kingsland Road.

Gerry and Ben go out to eat on Kingsland Road all the time so it was a good game we were playing:

Them: "No, not there. We've been there before."
Me: "Not there either. I've been there too and the loos are gross."

Until eventually, we found ourself at Pho Sweet Basil, which none of us had been too.

Pho sweet basil inside

The Entrance: They're empty. Whereas later, when we walk down the road, Tay Do Cafe is PACKED. And they serve alchohol, where we just wanted to BYOB. No problem, they tell us. We can BYOB. (Which has part of me wondering…is that legal?) The decor is new and modern and vaguely flat-pack-like.

Beef in betal leaves

The Starters: Beef in betel leaves. These are old. Like someone made them last night and just didn't get around to serve them. Either that, or they are way overcooked. The beef is tough. But the vegetables are fresh. And then there are some summer rolls, which are as nice as summer rolls can be. (I always find summer rolls rather bland. You really need the sauce. And I didn't get enough sauce.)

Pho sweet basil rice thingie

The Mains: Lots of different things. The best, in my opinion, was Ben's dish which was a fried rice stuffed with all sorts of delicious things, wrapped in banana leaf. This was comforting and savory and filling.

Chicken something

Worst was Carolyn's chicken dish, which came with some sort of curry sauce. The chicken, again, felt and tasted old and like it had been cooked once or twice before being warmed up a third time to be served to us.

Pho sweet basil mixed seafood 

Somewhere in the middle was my mixed seafood and vegetable dish. The prawns were generous. In general, it was very generous. Lots of fresh vegetables cooked just right. This was good. I would have it again.

The Loos: Could use a good power-washing. 

The Service: Easily confused.

The Verdict: Not my favorite.

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7 comments

An American in London August 25, 2009 - 9:50 am

That prawn dish looks a over-cornstarched gloppy, no?

On a dork note: if the resto has a license to sell alcohol, then I’d guess it’s just a business decision whether to allow people to bring their own (i.e., — which usually means a nice, big markup — so if they want to allow you bring your own, then it’s their financial loss but not against the law).

The illegality happens the other way around, where the place lacks a license but still sells alcohol.

Gourmet Chick August 25, 2009 - 10:00 am

Damn I was hoping to read this and find that you had discovered a previously overlooked and hidden gem on Kingsland road. Looks like it is back to Cay Tre and Viet Grill…

Helen August 25, 2009 - 1:17 pm

Shame that this was such a mediocre meal. I won’t bother going here then! I thought the rice was cooked in the banana leaf rather than being fried first? Or am I thinking of a different dish?

Krista August 25, 2009 - 1:20 pm

You are probably right…it was probably steamed in the banana leaf.
Whatever they did, it sure was delicious. Shame my photo is so blurry!

Gemma August 25, 2009 - 3:51 pm

I keep meaning to try other places on Kingsland Rd but then somehow always end up back at Song Que…

Krista August 25, 2009 - 4:58 pm

me too! but the loos…

Kathy October 25, 2009 - 6:47 pm

We stumbled on this and were very pleased with the service and food. We had excellent summer rolls and a Vietnamese pancake which was delicous, followed by a beef dish and soup. All clean and the waiter – Dong was such a nice guy. We would go again.

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