Despite the name, there are no mad scientists at Pho Laboratory, but the well designed dining area really is a world apart from its grimy neighbours on that strip of Xinzhong Lu opposite Great Leap Taproom
, with a clean, sharp colour scheme illuminated by natural light. They’ve got some smart imagery on the menu as well, with cute doodles of what you’re ordering. As a good top-off, expect smiling service and a lively Balkan soundtrack in the background.
The Pho Laboratory’s a good filling station, but they’re clearly still experimenting. The beef pho (50RMB) is the standout dish here: they simmer beef bones for hours for a layered, savoury broth packed with perfect noodles. But it’s a bit skimpy on the meat and they only make one batch per day; come after lunchtime and your bowl might be watered down. And for a place that makes pho its speciality, their chicken variety (35RMB) is sadly somewhat yawn-inducing. Our advice is to go for the beef.
Elsewhere, the menu sticks to the bare essentials. Shrimp rolls (25RMB) taste fresh, but are poorly rolled. One dip in the viscous peanut sauce and they run the risk of totally disintegrating. Colossal banh mi (40RMB) have the right blend of coriander and heat in a fresh, fluffy bun. It’s the condiments, though, that will get everyone talking: with a bottle on every table, you can have as much of that elusive Sriracha hot sauce as you want.