Tucked away on a little market street is one of the nicest places I ate in Amsterdam. With great big chalk board drawings and simplistic details, Pho 91 made for a fresh, healthy treat on a rainy afternoon after cycling round the city.
I’d had the restaurant bookmarked as one of the places to go for a while; Jen had personally recommended it to me, and I’d read good things about the place online. Ash and I had spent the day cycling round the city, stopping off at De Gooyer Windmill for a picnic, and then to Vondelpark for a ride around with the locals (who knows whether they’re just passing through or pedalling through the pretty English-style gardens for the fun of it) so we’d worked up quite an appetite by the time we headed over a few streets to the place.
Locking our bikes up opposite Albert Cuypmarkt, I’ll admit I was a little confused where the place was located. The traders were winding down for the day (which was sad because looking at the market’s website, it looks like to do a great variety of things!) and we stumbled along the roads trying to find the place. And then suddenly, a sign! A large Pho 91 sign!
We’d arrived at the place at the peculiar in-between lunch and dinner phase so it was quite empty and we were able to sit and order pretty quickly. Having looked at their menu in advance, I knew I was going for my favourite Vietnamese dish and the restaurant’s namesake: pho. Usually this is a meat-based broth, but the Pho Chay they serve is a vegan alternative, replacing anything animal with tofu, shiitake mushroom, and pea pods.
When it arrived, I was really quite excited. Peppered with sliced chilli, spring onion, and a lime, I was quick to grab my chopsticks (somehow I’ve managed to learn how to use them, although they still feel daunting every time I pick them up) and a big spoon for the broth. I read somewhere that making a mess is seen as a compliment in some Asian cultures so I decided to get stuck in and slurp away (apologies to the waitress watching over us if this isn’t true…)
The dish was filling and “as tasty as its meaty cousin” as the menu promised. I did add a few blobs of hoisin sauce as I was going, which was probably the least health part as it’s quite sugary, but the rest of the food was fresh, crisp, and tasted great. I don’t even dare compare my vegetarian pho recipe that I make at home every once in a while…
Ash got the vegetarian Bun Cha Gio, which was essentially fried noodles with mixed vegetables and a large, crunchy spring roll sliced into sections. It was clear that this had been made in house, and it tasted really, really good.
I think it’s fair to say that Pho 91 is worth a visit if you’re looking for authentic fresh and healthy Asian food when in Amsterdam (especially compared to restaurants in some of the more touristy areas), although we were quite lucky with our timing as the place had started to fill up by the time we left. There’s no reservation system either, so you’ll just have to head on over and see if there’s a spot for you!