By 8 o’clock last night, the sunlight had faded and an autumnal chill prickled my skin as I walked through the park. Every year at this time, as the darkness falls earlier day by day, I consider migrating south like a bird, wondering if I can endure another damp, grey Dutch winter. We’ll move to Nashville, I muse, just for four or five months until the roof terrace becomes habitable again. And perhaps one day I will… But for now, at least there’s soup.
And where’s the latest spot to get its own pho house? Yup, the Spaarndammerstraat. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why the Spaarndammerbuurt is the coolest (and tastiest) neighbourhood in Amsterdam right now – and this latest addition only goes to prove it. Yummie Sushi – a sushi shop that opened almost literally right on my doorstep two years ago – has now reinvented itself as Pho & Yummie. It still sells its popular sushi assortment (which you can read about in my previous review), but it’s added an entire Vietnamese menu to its repertoire as well. Not only that – the interior has been redecorated with more tables and chairs, so it’s now a viable restaurant option rather than simply a takeaway. Double score.
Needless to say, I popped in to check it out within days of its reopening. Feeling peckish, we started with the fresh spring rolls filled with BBQ pork. They were expertly rolled, well-filled and full of texture and flavour. Ours came with two dips – peanut sauce and a sweet chilli/fish sauce. A bargain at €5.
Then onto the pho. Despite having been to a pho-making workshop, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert – but I know what I like. This was a generous steaming bowl of broth filled with thinly sliced beef (just cooked in the soup itself), beef meatballs, rice noodles and spices. Beansprouts, coriander, basil and chillies came on the side so you could add them to your own taste. In short: everything you’d expect from a hearty bowl of Vietnamese soup – and perfectly timed for the coming of autumn.
The Dutch are right: soup is a cure-all, spiritual or physical. And as for me, I’m bracing myself for another winter in the Netherlands – but this year, armed with pho.