On the topic of Birminghams hidden gems, I thought I’d let you guys in on another secret… Its a place that will reward those adventurous few, gastronomical payment to those in search of the real thing, and accepting nothing less.
If you are not Vietnamese and haven’t lived in Birmingham for over a few years, then chances are you would also not have heard about the Birmingham Vietnamese Social Club and Pho Cafe. If you are a part of the Birmingham Vietnamese community, then this place needs no introduction (and also sorry, I’m about to tell everyone the secret we’ve been keeping to ourselves all this time).
You see, there is a street in Birmingham awkwardly named Brearly Street, its in an area called Newtown, near Aston University– its not the nicest street in the world and its not exactly easy to find either, but thats just part of its charm and you’ll feel more accomplished because of it.
Here at the site of D.T. Auto Mechanics, sits a little white add-on building, humble and under-dressed. Don’t bother looking for signs, there are none, that would be too easy. People only know this place through personal recommendations or having been taken here themselves by loving patrons.
So if you are brave enough to venture here by yourself AND manage to find the building, then just walk up those tiny metal steps, then through the wooden blue door– and there you will find that what awaits you is the best home made Pho in Birmingham, and possibly the world!
I tell you no lie, take it from someone who makes a point of ordering Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) from every establishment he has ever been to that offers it, this place does the best Pho ever, JUST like how mum makes it, and JUST like how it should be. And thats the important part, and that is why it comes so highly recommended.
Pho is the Vietnamese national dish, and those who are fortunate enough to understand the dish will say, that without a doubt there is good “rub-your-belly-when-you’re-done-and-breathe Pho” and then theres “meh, your average westernised beef noodle soup”. This is the former and certainly not the latter, and this is why all the local Vietnamese people choose to come here for their Vietnamese meals.
We visit this cafe on a regular basis; to grab a quick dinner with friends or lunch on Sundays. In fact I make a point of swinging by here every time I’m in Birmingham (2-3 times a week). Sometimes I even just try to convince myself, that I need to run an errand in the big city… just so I can grab a bowl of Pho while I’m there.
And they’re great value for money too. For just £7.00 you grab yourself a massive bowl of Pho, with all the fresh condiments and all the trimmings, exactly how it should be. You could order a small starter first or side dish too, but I wouldn’t advise it, unless you are really very hungry. These portions are massive, you WILL struggle to finish a bowl. Compared to the cost of a similar meal experience, this is exceptional value for money (£14.00 in total for 2 people, teas free).
Now just something to note before you pay this place a visit:
- This Vietnamese cafe is owned and ran by two lovely Vietnamese gentlemen whom are exceptionally skilled at serving Vietnamese patrons, however they may lack the necessary cultural skills to serve non-Vietnamese customers. This is not to say that you will get poor service, in fact the complete opposite as they will be overly keen to get it right. Just something to bear in mind really, that there may be cultural differences in how things are done. Their heart is in the right place, so if you do need something, just ask them! they are more than eager to serve.
- This is also a Vietnamese social club. They have musical instruments there such as drums, guitars and microphones here. Its a place where fathers, uncles and grandparents gather at the end of a hard days work to practice and preform their music while sipping on some Budweisers, and it can get rowdy. Its a community thing. If you’d like a quiet meal (we’d highly suggest it), then please try to get there between 5pm to 7pm. During 5pm-7pm you should have the place all to yourself.
- Its licensed so grab yourself a beer too! but do drink sensibly, as always.
Heres a sample of the menu.
Pho Beef or Chicken – £7.00
Pho Chefs Special – £8.00 (stick to the beef, there might be too much going on in the chefs special for you if you’re new to Pho)
Vietnamese Pork Rice – £7.00
Budsweiser – £1.70
Soft drinks (cans) – 60p
Birmingham Vietnamese Social Club and Pho Cafe
24 Brearly Street
Tel - 0121 359 0351
Monday – Saturday: 5pm – 11:55pm
Sunday: 12noon – 11:55pm
Is the Birmingham Vietnamese Social Club and Pho Cafe worth it? – YES!
Total spend per couple without compromises: £14 (£14 food + Chinese tea is free)