There’s no escaping it – autumn is well & truly here now. We’re still enjoying a lovely bit of sunshine here and there, but there’s an icy edge to the wind, you’ve got to have your umbrella with you at all times (just in case) and the sniffles are starting to spread… so it’s time to start treating yourself to some seriously good comfort food as the gloomy nights draw in. Luckily, just in time, the fabulous Noya’s Kitchen (home of gorgeous Vietnamese food – here’s a previous blog post I wrote all about it) has launched Pho Tuesdays, one night a week where you can visit their bright and pretty little restaurant for a piping hot bowl of pho, their delicious noodle soup.
|Crispy tofu dumplings|
Vietnamese food really is just the ticket for cold weather – lots of fresh ingredients to make you feel good, paired with gorgeous comfort food treats like dumplings and crispy spring rolls, and a healthy dose of chilli to warm you up. And in Bath, you don’t get better Vietnamese food than at Noya’s Kitchen. Pho, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a rich, flavoursome broth with rice noodles, fresh herbs and usually chicken or beef, and pronounced ‘fur’ (in case you were wondering). It’s not only mouth-wateringly tasty but it’s super good for you too (just the thing for cold & flu season), and it’s one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, so as soon as I heard about Noya’s Pho Nights, I knew I’d have to make a pilgrimage to try it.
The night in question was a little grey and chilly, but Noya’s is a lovely little oasis for this time of year – it’s a small cosy space, with décor that makes you feel less like you’re in a restaurant and more like you’ve been invited round to dinner, by a friend with excellent taste and fabulous cooking skills. There are twinkling fairy lights and splashes of bright colour, plenty of plants, old family photos on the walls and delicious smells in the air. The menu is always short and sweet, featuring whatever’s in season and whatever Noya fancies cooking that week, so with glasses of wine in hand we settled down to the two starters on the blackboard that day – tofu dumplings and pork spring rolls. I absolutely love Noya’s spring rolls – each one served wrapped in a crunchy lettuce leaf with lots of fresh mint, anda bowl of chilli sauce for dipping – and I’m not usually a fan of tofu, but I have to admit I really enjoyed the dumplings too and thought the tofu filling was fabulously flavourful.
|Noya’s incredible spring rolls|
Then it was time for the main event – I ordered beef pho and my dining companion went for chicken, although tofu was also on offer for any non-meat-eaters. Each steaming, fragrant bowlful came with a little posy of beansprouts, fresh herbs and slices of chilli to add yourself, alongside a wedge of lime for squeezing, so we took a moment to dress up our soups before tucking in. The broth was glorious – I could have eaten it entirely by itself, such was the depth of flavour, especially when complemented with plenty of lime – and the beef was meltingly tender. Soup for dinner might not sound very filling, but the pho noodles and beansprouts made it very hearty and both of us were entirely satisfied. I’ll confess that I didn’t add the chillies, as I’m a bit of a wimp, but my braver dining companion went for it and really enjoyed a slightly fierier chicken pho.
Whether you’ve got a bit of a cold that needs to be scared away, you need a pick-me-up on a gloomy night or you just love the sound of a delicious comfort food meal that won’t weigh you down, I highly recommend you get yourself down to Noya’s for Pho Night. It’s already much in demand (and heartening to find that at least half the clientele are usually chatting away in Vietnamese – always a very good sign) so I strongly advise you book a table, and make sure you get some of Noya’s sensational spring rolls too. Self-care won’t get much tastier this autumn…