10 Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating At "Pho Cafe"
For a long time, we have felt a type of way about this chain of “authentic” Vietnamese restaurants but their most recent campaign really tipped us over the edge - and we can no longer stay silent. Every year, we welcome brands with their “New year, new me” ads and it was no different for Pho Cafe with their “Go Pho It“ social & influencer campaign. This campaign launched earlier this month, pushing their new “healthy“ menu which basically removes all connections to the authentic Vietnamese cuisine they have profited from for so many years.
Below we’ve listed 10 reasons why we think you should stop eating at Pho Cafe - instead we urge you to go local and actually authentic (See end of post)
1. TRADEMARK ATTEMPTS
They trademarked the term ‘pho’ and then tried to sue small Vietnamese businesses for using the name for their company... they eventually apologised. We can forgive but we will never forget. Read more here.
2. LACK OF EDUCATION
Pho Cafe has 27 restaurants across the UK and describe themselves as “Vietnamese Street Food”. They started at a time when Vietnamese food wasn’t as popular as it is today. As a western brand, they have a massive opportunity to help educate the western world about east-Asian cuisine, and to prove to us Asians their authenticity in the food they sell. But, instead they tell people to pronounce their restaurant “FO” when it’s supposed to be pronounced “fuh” - educating the western world how to mispronounce pho. Using the Vietnamese accents in the spelling on the menu doesn’t make any difference as the western world only sees the letters “p-h-o” which they’ve told them is pronounced “Fo” or as we like to say when referring to them “FAUX”.
3. NEW HEALTHY MENU
They’ve made a ‘healthy’ menu that doesn’t contain any of the traditional rice noodles or rice. All they’ve done is taken out the carbs, and replaced it with some veg to lower the calorie count. The traditional version is already healthy, don’t get it twisted. This is just low carb and low calorie... they are trying to tap into your post Xmas feelings of guilt and insecurity to sell you what they incorrectly think is healthier - you’ll be hungry after half an hour. Trust us, we know our food.
4. COURGETTI PHỐ GA
aka “Courgetti Soup“. One of the new items on their healthy menu. They have put courgette noodles in soup and called it a healthier version of pho. My friend, this is not pho. It is purely a courgette soup. They’ve removed banh pho from the pho dish…so it shouldn’t be called pho…!
Targeting the health and fitness audience with their new menu, they engaged with some fit-fluencers to promote the campaign. This isn’t anything to do with the influencers who are actually involved, but to our massive disappointment there was not a single East Asian influencer on this campaign, let alone a Vietnamese influencer - check out the # on Instagram. As an establishment founded by two white people, claiming to sell authentic Vietnamese food, there seems to be a massive lack of Asian representation in all their campaigns, not just this one.
*UPDATE* As you can see in the comments section, the marketing manager has stated they did actually engage with one East Asian yoga teacher.
6. “CHILL BRO“…
When calling Pho Cafe out for their mis-selling of dishes on their new menu, our friend Lizzie of @hollowlegs was told to “chill bro” and then eventually blocked by Pho Cafe’s Marketing Director. (see picture below)
7. SPEAK UP, GET BLOCKED.
When we called them out and asked them to be more responsible and conscious with their marketing the same Marketing Director also blocked us (see below screenshots). Which leads us nicely onto…
8. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT REALLY CARE ABOUT US VIETNAMESE
This establishment is a non-Vietnamese people profiting off of traditional Vietnamese food yet they don’t want to listen to Vietnamese people who call them out for their wrongs. Our comments were fair, and we purely messaged them to tell them where they went wrong - we weren’t rude or being trolls. I guess this is what happens when you try and speak to a brand who is too arrogant to admit they made a mistake, and think they know better.
9. GET THE NAME OF THE DISHES RIGHT!
They incorrectly called Bun Bo Hue a spicy and hot pho...! No, this is in fact Bun Bo Hue, a completely different dish in itself, not a derivative of pho or a type of pho dish! (See picture below…)
10. JAPANESE MUSHROOMS
Using the Japanese name of the Flammulina mushroom as part of the “Vietnamese“ menu. Need we say anything more?
Some food for thought we’re sure, so hopefully it’ll make you think twice before you next fancy heading to the Pho Cafe on your high street. Instead, we want you to encourage you to try these alternatives in London. Wherever there is a Pho Cafe, we’re sure there will be an authentic alternative Vietnamese restaurant nearby.