It takes a few minutes for me to warm to Pho Viet. Laminated menu in hand, one of those institutional, plasticised things, the first thing that strikes me is that the functional canteen decor- dark standard issues restaurant chairs, anodyne cream walls, over-bright lights- doesn’t match the prices. I mean, pak choi with oyster sauce, £13.50? Help!

We’ve arrived drenched, and now the door is wedged open on this cold, theoretically Summer, day. So we move as far inside as we can to seek some heat and order Vietnamese Highland tea to warm us up. Wise move. These aren’t cash and carry sweepings off the tea factory floor. They unfurl in the pot into whole, green leaves, exuding a steamy scent that reminds me of new-mown hay and heather honey. This delicate brew induces mellowness, a Proustian moment, and then I start to appreciate a recurring theme of the ceramics here, pretty green, somewhere between celadon and pea.

And with the first few dishes, I gradually tune into the presentation, which is bright, tempting, and from the first mouthful, palpably fresh. Goi cuon, fresh not fried spring rolls, served at ambient temperature? I can often take or leave them because the sticky wrapper is too chewy, the filling too bland. But these are compelling, prawns that actually have some flavour, turbo-charged with big mint leaves, so fresh they might just have been harvested. Excuse the repetition of ‘fresh’ here, but that for me was the defining feature of food I tasted in Vietnam, and Pho Viet, as yet not ground down by pandering to foreign greyness, amply displays it.

We dip the rolls into ‘homemade peanut sauce’. The homemade description doesn’t oversell the reality, a nuanced, neither overly sweet nor salty, dip with an earthy taste that puts me in mind of bean paste. As a description ‘crispy pancake’ doesn’t do justice to the banh xeo, which knock spots out of any I ate in Vietnam. The batter, made from rice flour, cornflour, turmeric, and coconut milk, has fried to a very thin, bubbly, yellow crisp that’s just strong enough to take the weight of briefly stir-fried beansprouts and tofu. We break bits off and roll them them up in abundant lettuce leaves, with more mint tucked in for good measure, and dunk them in a dipping sauce of lime juice. fish sauce, and sugar with a kaleidoscope of chilli and garlic floating in it. These textural and temperature contrasts, so redolent of Vietnam, grow the appetite.

Our stomachs expanding by the second, we finish every last morsel of the beef chargrilled in wild betel leaves. Although the grill has barbecued the meat’s extremities and the leaves have imparted their herbaceous flavour, it is soft within, rather like a tender stew. Sprinkled with toasted sesame seed and peanut, served upon warm rice vermicelli, with cooling shredded carrot and lettuce, we just can’t stop eating it.

Fried spring roll with grilled pork- sounds like a crowd-pleaser for us Scots, does it not? Something meaty and fried generally gets a thumbs-up. But typically Vietnamese, it’s essentially a warm salad, an addictive combination of firm rice noodles, lettuce, mint, the rolls- conveniently cut up- smoky grilled meat, toasted peanuts and sesame seeds, the whole palate-pleasing project sprinkled with microscopically minced raw chilli and garlic.

Of course the acid test here will be the pho, the noodle soup. We’ve chosen the special one with beef and beef balls. It’s fragrant rather than hot, although you’re at liberty to spice it up if you want, a light, flavoursome stock that’s pale and cloudy, with a hint of star anise. The beef has just cooked and no more in the broth, the beef balls have the bounce of a Frankfurter, mushrooms add savoury depth.

Did I hear myself complaining about the prices here? I recant. Pho Viet serves up ample portions, and its cooking is ace. The bigger your party, the more reasonable the cost will seem.

Pho Viet, 3 Grove Street, Edinburgh 0131 228 3383

Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10

Joanna Blythman, Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018