A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: The Holuhraun eruption is at it again
Culture
Food
Pho Sizzle

Pho Sizzle

Published June 11, 2012

Globalisation works in mysterious ways. Iceland is not host to any great Italian, French or Mexican restaurants, but we have good Thai, good Ethiopian, solid Nepalese and scores of vaguely authentic Japanese food of varying quality…and now Reykjavík boasts its first proper Vietnamese restaurant.
Most of my experience with Vietnamese food boils down to hanging out in the kitchen of my former girlfriend’s mother. She liked to feed chubby white boys and I liked to eat—we got along great. She even dragged me along to a few hole-in-the-wall places in Vietnam Town in Paris, a city where I must have tried every hole-in-the wall, dodgy but-tasty pho joint.
Having undergone the comparably gentle Frenchification process as a former colony, Vietnam retains the influences from the imposed lessons (lesions?) such as baguettes, pâtés, ridiculously strong coffee and carnage basted in political ideals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US has asserted a less significant influence on Vietnamese cuisine. Not that you would know by looking at the red vinyl diner seats, but we are mercifully in Iceland so there is no need to fret about sweaty summer dresses clinging to the polyvinyl chloride and sullying the reputation of Reykjavík’s chaste maidens.
Pho serves fried meats with rice vermicelli noodles and pho soup… with fried meats and rice vermicelli noodles. I definitely recommend the Vietnamese spring rolls as a side dish, which comes fresh or fried… with meats and rice vermicelli noodles (I’m beginning to sense a pattern here). Pho also offers lovely shakes with ingredients like jackfruit, avocado, strawberries and rainbow (sic).
The beef noodle soup (1,290 ISK) is excellent and all the soups come with bean sprouts and salad on the side. The soups are not as aromatic and dense as what you get at The Noodle Station on Skólavörðustígur—the Pho broth is lighter, tangier and has more of a ginger-peanut flavour. The broth isn’t spicy, but the tables come teeming with sauces, most of which are cut from the cloth of soy-garlic-chilli (don’t expect soy sauce though) and you can flavour things to your heart’s content. I recommend not being shy with the fish sauce.
The spring rolls come fried or fresh (summer rolls). I recommend the fresh ones with prawns (990 ISK). The fresh spring rolls are decent; they contain bean sprouts, a bit of cilantro, lettuce and vermicelli. But they could have used more Thai basil and cilantro. The fried spring rolls are mostly made with minced pork as usual, but it seems that they can only be ordered as part of the grilled pork and noodle dishes.
The price is right. If you go all out on the menu then we are still not looking at much more than 2,000 ISK. Although the soups are mostly broth and noodles, the ratio of meat and veggies is no less than what you would see in a wrap purchased downtown (the bulk of which is the dirt cheap wrap itself). So you would pay less for a fresh-tasting dish of fried pork, spring rolls and noodles than you would for a lousy kebab wrap with French fries in most places. Oh and don’t delude yourself into thinking the chicken, which has been rolled around in oil, sweetener and flour, is any lower in calories than the fried pork. So you might as well just go for the tasty pork.
One last thing: At the time of writing, Pho has no website, Facebook page or listing on restaurants.is and is only listed under “Vietnamese restaurant” in the phonebook. So don’t lose this review.
 —
Pho Vietnam Restaurant
Ármúli 21, 108 Reykjavík
What We Think: Pho may not be in the top 10, but it get points for authenticity, very reasonable prices, quality ingredients and for adding variety to the Reykjavík restaurant scene.
Flavour: Pretty much standard Vietnamese food. Fresh. Lighter than you’d think if you’re used to Chinese take-out.
Ambiance: When you look around and see that you’re the only non-Vietnamese person in there then you know you’re probably in the right place.
Service: The blonde girl working did a great job of imitating the stone-face somnambulist service I’ve come to expect at Vietnamese restaurants (no sarcasm intended, sycophant servers are worse than Stalin). But next time I want my coffee after the meal.
Price (for 1): 1,300–2,000 ISK
Rating: 4/5



Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Mystic (anonymous) Pizza

by

Much like the version of himself Ted Danson portrayed in the cult TV hit show ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’—in which Mr. Danson donated handsomely, and anonymously, to a good cause—there was a huge buzz this spring about a new pizza place that was, and remains, anonymous. Locals were very eager to know more about this nameless new establishment—simply referred to by its address, Hverfisgata 12—which had clearly done well with its word-of-mouth marketing strategy. People gave more attention to the anonymous method than to those putting themselves out there in a more ostentatious fashion, much like the Ted Danson vs Larry

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

New Nordic Cuisine Is Dead

by

My lifelong hatred of dill makes me a terrible champion of New Nordic cuisine. At age seven I swore to my mom I would try my best to eradicate the herb—and now I find myself in a restaurant named after that noxious weed. My skin may be the colour of cauliflower soup, but my taste buds are bulgur brown. It hasn’t helped that the Icelandic food scene has mostly embraced the parts of New Nordic cuisine that suited our aims (reaffirming patriotism and separating tourists from their money) but left out the tricky bits, like carefully sourcing and foraging your

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Icelandic Restaurant Name Listicle

by

Before you can name your child in Iceland, you have to run the name by the highly conservative Icelandic Naming Committee. But that’s where the micromanaging stops. You can name your farm Saurbær (“Shitville”), name your horse Hátíð (“Festival”), and name your streets Barmahlíð (“Bosom Hill”) or Völundarhús (“Labyrinth”). Bar and restaurant names are no exception. Here’s an easy-to-digest overview of some of the best and worst of Icelandic restaurant names, inspired by a Buzzfeed listicle we read called “Top 5 Reasons For Top 5 Lists.” Top 5 Questionable Bar/Restaurant Names 5. Harlem It’s closed now, and it was good

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Virus In Imported Meat Might Alter Nation’s Behavior, Warns PM

by

According to Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, a virus that may change people’s behavioral patterns is common among most of the world’s populations, except Iceland, Norway, and, ‘remarkably’, the UK. Sigmundur Davíð admits that this does indeed sound like science fiction, adding ‘but …’, seemingly to imply that reality may prove stranger than fiction. He indicated that this should be kept in mind when shaping agricultural policy, emphasizing as ‘extremely important’ that ‘we remain free of all sorts of infections which are, unfortunately, all to common in very many places’. ‘Might Be Changing The Behavior Of Whole Nations’ ‘Because this

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Grilled Meat In The Summer Rain

by

Kol was somewhat of a puzzle to me: a restaurant that opened its doors early this year to some acclaim, but hasn’t yet reached its full commercial potential—or so I thought. My companion and I graced Kol with our presence on a busy Friday evening. Every seat was filled with people who seemed ready to put the endless summer rain out of their minds by consuming grilled food… and cocktails. Lots of cocktails. Kol is brilliantly situated near the top of Skólavörðustígur, a short distance from Hallgrímskirkja church. The place is designed pretty much like every other new eating establishment

Culture
Food
<?php the_title(); ?>

Great Grandma’s Recipe, With a Kick

by

Sceptics of Jungian psychology take note: the collective unconscious is most certainly A Thing here in Iceland. How’s that, you wonder? There are lots of good examples, such as the quickly passé, but briefly passionate fad for Tex-Mex-themed confirmation parties. But more to the point, consider the emergence of Reykjavík’s food truck culture. Less than six months ago, it didn’t really exist in Iceland. And then, practically overnight, a handful of carts suddenly blossomed around town, with two of them selling kjötsúpa, or Icelandic meat soup, as their premier item. Having opened in May (slightly beforeits kjötsúpa-serving cousinSúpuvagninn), Farmer’s Soup

Show Me More!