Focus on Vietnamese coffee and dessert culture at Pho To Shop Xuhui – This is Shanghai

The place

Award-winning Vietnamese restaurant since 2014, Cyclo has been a pioneer in bringing the authentic flavors of Vietnamese cuisine to Shanghai.

For their next concept, the Cyclo team opened Pho shop on Wuding Lu in October 2019 – a fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant that has quickly become the neighborhood benchmark for banh mipho and all the rest.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Pho To Shop has continued to expand since then, with a second outpost on Nanjing Xi Lu and, more recently, its latest excavations on Huashan Lu.

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Like any precocious younger sibling, it turns out that Pho To Shop isn’t just a smaller-scale version of his grand restaurant. He aspires to forge his own identity and establish himself in the culinary world of Shanghai.

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So, in a bold side step, it is developing in a distinct and original direction – one that puts more emphasis on Vietnamese coffee and dessert culture.

food and drink

Inspired by the street corner cafes of Vietnam, with their tiny plastic chairs and tables spilling out onto the sidewalk – separated from the street by much of it – the new Pho To Shop offers a much larger selection of coffee drinks. extensive, plus a wide variety of sweet soup-based desserts.

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Vietnamese culture is deeply rooted in a strong history of coffee production and consumption. As the second largest producer of coffee beans in the world, Vietnam has created a variety of flavors and styles of coffee.

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Vietnamese coffee is distinguished by its significantly bold and bitter flavor. It starts with the unique brewing process using the “phin” filter, a metal box that slowly drips coffee when hot water is added at the top.

As the hot water drips down and turns into coffee, it settles in a glass with sweetened condensed milk to balance out the strong flavor. And here isa classic Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk – ca phe sua.

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Another version of coffee in Vietnam is egg coffee – ca phe trung. First made in Hanoi in the 1940s, egg yolk replaced milk when cow’s milk was scarce.

The egg yolk is whipped with condensed milk to create a light foam to mix with the coffee. Today, this version is still popular throughout the county.

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Pho To Shop’s Egg coffee (RMB38) is dusted with a dusting of sweetened cocoa powder to juxtapose the robust aroma of coffee.

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By using coconut cream instead of coconut milk for extra punch, plus coconut syrup, the Coconut Coffee (RMB40) delivers on the coconut front without being sweet.

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A play on the ever-popular bubble tea, the Bubble coffee (RMB35) is as the name suggests, but made with Vietnamese coffee and milk rather than tea. Ideal for those who can’t decide between a coffee or a dessert, it offers both at the same time, in the same glass.

Of course there is also classic Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (RMB30), available both hot and cold; for a little extra pep in your step, stock your coffee with Kahlua or Bailey’s for 40 RMB.

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The desserts are down to earth, light and refreshing, reminiscent of fruits, jellies and coconut dessert soups served in time-worn pots ladled by Vietnamese street vendors until the wee hours. in the morning.

Homemade with coconut palm sugar rather than regular white sugar, the treats offer a sweetness closer to honey.

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colorful Rainbow (RMB38) – with crispy beets and water chestnuts tinted with pandan, black jelly with herbs, coconut jelly and mung bean paste in a coconut milk soup…

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… just as sticky, soft but pantone Snow White (RMB30)with lychee, water chestnuts, chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut jellies and crunchy slivered almonds – each dessert soup is distinct with varying textures to keep every bite far from the mundane.

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Other options cover warming Banana and Sago Pearls (RMB30) with banana compote, crushed peanuts and coconut milk; Sweet corn pudding (RMB30) with coconut cream filling; and the refreshing cold Sweet soup with longans and lotus seeds (30 RMB).

DSC01198.jpgMango sticky rice (RMB38), Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

The food menu is copy-pasted from other Pho To Shop locations, with items like banh mi – the Vietnamese baguette sandwich – spring rolls, hair bun and, of course, pho.

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When pho is in the name, you order it and have a choice of chicken or beef. We opted for the latter, also known as Pho Bo (68 RMB/small, 78 RMB/large)the large one easily feeds two people.

The seasoned broth combines a concentrated umami enhanced by an abundance of fresh herbs and large slippery rice noodles.

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Imagine our surprise when the Bun Cha Hanoi Noodles (RMB73) stepped up to steal the show. Three pork belly balls swim in a tangy fish sauce and citrus broth sprinkled with minced garlic and carrots.

Spreading this over piles of fresh herbs and lettuce, grilled pork, fried spring rolls and sticky vermicelli noodles, we felt full, but not weighed down.

DSC01180.jpgVermicelli with grilled pork (RMB63), Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

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Hailing from co-owner Lam’s hometown of Tra Vinh, the Shrimp and fish soup (RMB68) sees a coconut milk-based broth simmered with tangy pineapple and chili, stacked with fried fish patties, shrimp and a hard-boiled egg.

The bottom of the bowl is rounded with two types of noodles: thin pho noodles and thicker, springy rice noodles. Crunchy peanuts, bean sprouts and fried shallots adorn the top with a hint of lime.

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Similar to papaya salad in flavor, the Susu salad (RMB38) features chayote – a thin-skinned squash from Mexico – along with julienned carrots and green mango in a citrus-herb fish sauce.

The atmosphere

Bright place with a buzzing atmosphere, this place located on level B1 in a food court does not lose its cachet. The walls are decorated with graphics of Vietnamese villages done in a modern art style, while the brightly colored seats draw passers-by.

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Split in two, one side is more coffee-heavy – with a heavy-duty coffee machine – while the other side is where the kitchen is.

Definitely a place to revisit, although perfect for big messy meals with a group of friends, it’s also a rare place where you would be so comfortable eating alone.

Price: RMB150-250
Who go: Those who work near Zhongshan Park, Vietnamese who live downtown, those who want a healthy but hearty Southeast Asian lunch
Good for: Coffee dates, a sweet mid-day snack, Vietnamese food cravings


See a listing for Pho To Shop (Xuhui).

Read more Shanghai restaurant reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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