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  • When I visited on a Sunday evening, the place was slightly too quiet. Combined with the tiled surfaces and overly bright lighting, this made the atmosphere a little clinical. There's definitely a dimmer switch, though, because the manager turned the lights down right before we left. Pre-learn the Mandarin for "this room has the mood-killing lustre of an office bathroom" if you're going for a date.

    Despite the lack of ambience, we were won over by the food - it's definitely worth a visit if you're around Jing'an. Everything is fresh, authentic and well-priced. We ordered a vermicelli noodle bowl with lemongrass chicken, pho with brisket and beef balls, a shockingly purple dragonfruit and banana juice, and a ginger lemon tea. The noodle bowl was the standout dish; the clean, light flavours were exactly what I needed after a heavy Shanghai weekend. Coriander and crunchy vegetables offset the savoury, spiced chicken well. The pho was also good, with its rich, slowly-simmered broth as a flavour base. There are a few different options available, including some with tripe, if that's what you're into.

    In total, we spent just under 150rmb. Not as cheap as the local noodle stands, perhaps, but it's a good deal for quality Vietnamese food, and it's definitely healthier than a lot of the other options in the vicinity. Service is perfectly efficient and friendly, and the relaxed seating means that it's as good for large groups as it is for couples or solo diners.

    It's worth noting that there aren't many vegetarian options here. If you're looking for standout veggie or vegan noodles, there are a few better options around West Beijing Road. Even if you don't eat meat, though, it's worth stopping by to try some of the drinks on offer. There's a whole range of Vietnamese options, as well as some satisfyingly lurid juices and the ubiquitous canned beers. I plan to go back one morning to try the Vietnamese coffee, made with sweetened condensed milk.

    This area isn't exactly lacking in coffee shops, granted, but Pho Store provides another variation if you're tired of your normal flat white / ristretto / salted cream cheese iced latté. I’m not sure if Pho Store is quite worth the full four stars I’ve given it here, but it definitely deserves more than three. It’s a great lunch option, the service was quietly competent, and the healthy flavours were exactly what I was looking for.

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SMARTREVIEWS

SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

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