YUMMI YUMMI NOODLE BAR
8 Station Parade
Ealing Common. W5 3LD
Website: Yummi Yummi
Phone number: 020 8992 2848
Nearest Tube: Ealing Common, Ealing Broadway BR
Average price per person: £10
With our new Tom Tom 300 GPS system we waded our way through London’s peak hour traffic in honour of our continuous holy grail search to find the perfect Pho. My degree of excitement grew as I reminded myself of one of the golden rules of a good ethnic restaurant – authenticity is normally proportional to the tackiness of the name. Guaranteed to be good. But any degree of enthusiasm was quickly doused with scepticism as soon as we walked through the door. We were greeted by a very cool, scaled-down cheap modern atmosphere. Two toned beige/white walls, red Japanese lanterns at the entrance, three lone Ikea pictures, wooden tables and plastic chairs, the obligatory cheap wooden floor boards. Tables filled with white people. Uh oh. Never a good sign.
Their menu is quite comprehensive with helpful pictures. It seems the owners can’t deicide on which cuisine to specialise in. The bulk is Vietnamese, with a dash of Japanese, Thai and Malaysian. Again an ominous sign. Jack of all trades, master of none. You can click on the website above and it will give you a good idea of what their menu is like.
Summer rolls (£2.80) appeared shortly after our drinks of iced lemon tea. OK, but didn’t quite hit the spot. The prawns were tasteless and probably came out of a frozen packet. It was hard to tell if pork slices intended to be included in the roll - it certainly was on the menu desciption. Could hardly see it.
After a longer wait, our Pho Tai came. We balked at the price. At £6.80 per bowl, it had better be damn good. As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn’t at all the real McCoy. The beef slices on top looked like they were cooked all the way through. Which is OK I suppose, as some people like it that way, and we had not specified otherwise. The soup was quite tasty but tasted exactly like chicken broth. In addition, normally this dish comes with a large plate of fresh bean sprouts, lemon, fresh cut chilli and a bouquet of fresh mint, basil and sometimes coriander leaves. Instead, they had chosen to serve the Pho with the bean spouts already in. The plate they provided had the chilli sauce, two slices of lemon and a meagre scattering of a few basil leaves.
To complete the whole Pho dining experience, I love to dip the beef slices in a small plate of freshly cut chilli and fish sauce. I asked for this and she came with a sweet dipping sauce normally used in other Vietnamese dishes. I explained again and she came with a bottle of fish sauce and said they didn’t have fresh chilli. Holy crap. I don’t know any place proclaiming to specialise in Vietnamese food to not provide fresh chilli. She surly pointed to a bottle of minced chilli paste and shoved it in front of me. We did not feel welcomed at all.
I don’t think they have a proper meat slicing machine to cut the beef slices ultra-thin. The beef in my bowl was tough, devoid of taste and of varying thicknesses. I think what they have done is frozen the beef and tried to slice it with a normal knife thinly that way. No way to do things if you’re aiming for a perfect bowl of Pho – which wasn’t their intention at all.
(I’ll use this perfect moment to plug Chris’s Café East Pho Bo in Surry Quays. The best bowl of Pho we’ve found yet in London.)
The place when we left was absolutely packed with mainly white people. This to me immediately sums up the ethos of the place. Nowhere near to authenticity, but passable to other ethnicities who don’t know the cuisine well. This is obvious, as the ingredients they have used skimped on quality and freshness. Cutting corners all the way. A shame, as the other dishes on the menu look like they could be quite good and people seem to come in their hoards and enjoy themselves. We’ll leave them to it then. See you at Café East.
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