Pho is starting to get more and more popular in Hong Kong, especially with the recent openings of more modern, "trendy" pho joints opened by those with European or western influences.
Brothers Norman and Russell Stradmoor, who are self-proclaimed "quarter British", decided to open up Pho Bar because a friend's space in Central had become available. The friend's business was shutting down but the lease wasn't over yet, so the brothers decided to try opening a pho restaurant in that space since they thought they had a pretty good recipe. The Central location opened on January 15th, 2016.
Interestingly, Norman and Russell Stradmoor's main focus is in fact their coffee business, Omotesando Koffee in Wan Chai. However, Pho Bar has been so successful, they have opened up another location in Causeway Bay.
Pho Bar claims its broth is more intense, richer than other broths because of the sheer ratio of bones that go into each batch. Over 13kg of beef parts are used to make only about 50 bowls of soup. The broth is cooked for 18 hours and is made using USDA and Angus beef.
They offer different grades of beef. You can order the normal beef shank or upgrade (for an additional $27 HKD) to the medium rare "US selected beef."
For the health-conscious diner, they actually offer "zoodles", zucchini noodles (in essence, shaved zucchini) instead of normal rice noodles. I personally feel like that would change the dish completely, but it's still nice that they offer that as an option for those who cannot or don't want to consume the rice noodles.
On top of pho, Pho Bar also offers fun Asian-fusion small bites, such as fried chicken (e.g., bomb-ass karaage or house special chicken wings), spring rolls, and fries (see below). I thought the chicken wings were passable and had reasonably good flavor, but they didn't really blow me away.
The creative Kombu & Rokusuke Salt Fries ($28) was a fun concept, though the fries weren't super crispy, were a bit mealy on the inside, and overall were only OK.
General Thoughts - Pho Bar Hong Kong
I think my general impression of Pho Bar is that it's alright. It's decent. The trendy environment is kind of cute, and I enjoy the idea behind the fun small bites. The pho is enjoyable. It doesn't necessarily stand out, but it hits the spot, and I do appreciate how they offer an upgrade option.
The restaurant in Central is a bit hard to find, hidden behind stalls of a crowded outdoor clothing market during the day. They say that their lower rent (due to the off-the-beaten-path location) allows them to charge slightly lower prices.
In short, if you're hungry and in the area, it's a perfectly fine place to stop by. The prices are reasonable, and the food is enjoyable. I'd probably pass on the fries, but I'd be curious to try the bomb-ass karaage the next time I went.
Pho Bar Hong Kong
24 Li Yuen Street West, Central, tel: 2109 2028
21 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2109 2826