Pho is a small word with a big pedigree. It’s the national dish of Vietnam and is a glorious beef noodle soup served with piles of fresh herbs, chillies and lime.
Pho has acted as a unifying force. Something which held the people of the country together. It’s part of the national identity of Vietnam.
David Fox of Tampopo is in love with Pho. He’s in love with the pho philosophy too. “Despite all the difficulties Vietnam has had, the war in the fifties, sixties and seventies pho has acted as a unifying force. Something which held the people of the country together. It’s part of the national identity of Vietnam.”
“It’s interesting too,” he continues, “because it brings East and West together. Pho is a related to many Far Eastern dishes but also bears the hallmarks of French influence: France being the European colonial power which occupied Vietnam. This influence added a lightness and artfulness to traditional Vietnamese cuisine which sets it apart from other Eastern cuisines. Thus a good pho is light and fragrant, the comparison with a Japanese ramen, which tends to be heavier and hearty, is a useful one.”
Of course Vietnamese food is one of many Eastern cuisines featured in Tampopo’s arsenal of flavour. Dishes come from Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, and each attempts to be true to its origins.
The Vietnamese dishes are an example of how far Fox and Tampopo will go in trying to deliver as near as possible authentic flavours to audiences across the north of England in Leeds and Manchester ( and for that matter in Fulham).
“We get inspiration from visiting the individual countries,” says Fox. “In Vietnam, pho was a real case in point. It was everywhere you can’t offer Vietnamese food without serving up a pho. And what I really liked about it was that it was on the streets. You’d ask in your hotel, where the best pho was and they’d point a couple of blocks down the way to this take-away place at a junction. It was fresh and spontaneous both in the flavours and the way it was delivered and that’s what we’re trying to achieve at Tampopo.”
Tampopo in Leeds is at South Parade (0113 245 1816). In Manchester you can find Tampopo in Albert Square (0161 819 1966), The Triangle Shopping Centre (0161 839 6484) and The Trafford Centre (0161 747 8878).
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