Vietnamese is one of my very favourite types of cuisine. I love how it tastes incredibly fresh, zesty, and tangy, occasionally spicy, but never cloying. I love summer rolls, and I love pho. I don’t really know how to pronounce that last word (Fur? Phuh? Po?) but who cares – it’s a warming, noodly, fresh, zesty, tangy and spicy bowl of amazement, loaded with bean sprouts, herbs, chunks of lime and sliced chillies.

I’ve had it in a few places around London – Kingsland Road, in particular, is very good for authentic Vietnamese restaurants, and I also have a very soft spot for Cay Tre on Old Street – it used to be all ramshackle formica tables and mismatching furniture, but since they opened a swanky new branch in Soho, it’s raised its game a bit.

Anyway, I had never dipped my toe into the gradually expanding chain, Pho, which now has seven branches in London, one in Brighton and one in Leeds, , as I thought it might be bland, wishy washy, and unsatisfying.

I was – thank the lord – wrong. P and I met for a post-first-day-back-at-work dinner, and had a hankering for Vietnamese. Pho was just around the corner from the wine bar we met in, and the initial signs were good – the smell that greeted us when we walked in was garlicky, meaty, and hearty.

We started with incredibly fresh summer rolls, filled with prawns, beansprouts and herbs, with a peanut dipping sauce (you can also have fish sauce or hoi sin instead). They were absolutely delicious, the outer wrap with the right amount of chewiness. We also went for fried baby squid with a salt, pepper and lime dip. The salt and pepper came on the side in a small bowl with slices of chopped red chilli, and a half lime. I poured everything over the squid, and it was heavenly; the squid had just the right amount of bite, and the salt and pepper dusting lifted it to a different level.

Mains, of course, were big bowls of pho. P, some might argue, played fairly safe, ordering Pho Ga – chicken breast in chicken stock – while I ordered the special: Bun Ga Hue – hot and spicy chicken with flat noodles, and extra shitake mushrooms. It was a messy affair, as I practically inhaled it. The broth was intensely flavoured, the level of heat just the way I like it (almost painful) and with good, big strips of torn chicken in amongst the noodles, beansprouts, herbs and chillies.

With a bottle of house wine, it came to £25 each, which isn’t too bad for central London. Special mention, too, to the genuinely friendly and helpful staff. It was, in short, a revelation, and I can’t wait to go back.