Pho House Vietnamese Restaurant “It’s All Authentic”
Pho is an experience.
One of Vietnam’s best-known, best-loved culinary specialties, this dish — or, more accurately, this steaming bowl — features a signature meat-based broth and long white rice noodles with strips of seasoned beef. It’s not complete until the diner tosses in several specific side elements: large, fresh basil leaves; crispy, new mung bean sprouts; wedges of tart lime to squeeze into the soup; some hoisin sauce; and thin slices of jalapeno peppers. Diners can individualize the pho to their own taste by adding any combination of these to the broth. The bean sprouts have that fresh, right-out-of-the-garden crunch and a slightly nutty undertone.
In minutes, the pho transforms into an aromatic, full-flavored feast unlike any other noodle soup on earth. As you eat, you keep tossing in more basil, more sprouts, another squirt of lime…you get the idea. The broth gets more and more delicious, until it achieves a whole new level of gustatory delight.
There’s only one thing: Pho House serves an enormous pho, a complete meal in itself. So save up that appetite before you drop in, and prepare to enjoy inhaling that magical steam when the bowls hit the table. They’re so heavy, the server can only deliver two bowls at a time on a sturdy tray.
Going for pho is good, tasty fun — and at Pho House, there are 19 styles to choose from, including a beef eye-round, beef brisket, well-done flank, and the House Special Pho, which combines five types of beef.
Of course, there’s much more on the menu, from wonton egg noodles to curry, Vietnamese traditional salads, and grilled shrimp, chicken, and sliced pork atop vermicelli noodles.
It’s the Seasoning — and a Family Affair
Linh Hoang (an accountant before Pho House) and her sister (a pharmacist) run the restaurant, while their mother and father create the meals. “It’s all authentic,” says Linh, smiling. “It’s what we make at home. That’s how we make it here.”
Pho is a classic soup, Linh explains, something that takes time and practice to make well. “My family opened this restaurant because my dad and mom had already had a restaurant in Vietnam, specializing in the ‘street food’ so popular in that country.” Coming here in 1992, the couple brought up six children and have only recently returned to their first love: traditional cooking.
“This is something my dad really loves,” says Linh. “To make the broth, my dad puts it in a giant pot and lets it cook for over 12 hours, adding ginger, onion, other seasonings. So when customers come in, the broth is already done! We just put the Pho together. It’s very flavorful. With Vietnamese food, everything is in the seasoning.”
Spring Rolls, Eggrolls, Lemongrass
Two appetizers you’ll want to try are the gorgeous Spring Rolls, where pink shrimp curl up beneath a near-transparent wrapper, and the Vietnamese Eggrolls. Those come in a crispy shell holding a blend of minced pork, onion, carrot, vermicelli and cabbage, with the distinct note of taro never overbalancing the other ingredients. The combination makes a succulent start to a meal.
Main dishes (other than noodle-based varieties) include a generous platter of Grilled Pork Chops served with egg, pickled carrots and daikon, steamed rice and scallions. Vegetarians will enjoy the Stir-fry with Tofu, Fried Tofu Curry, or Tofu Lemongrass.
Chicken Lemongrass over Vermicelli stuns with classic Southeast Asian taste — that lemongrass providing its wonderful, one-of-a-kind, aromatic, zesty and just-plain-indescribable flavor. The first thing you notice is the beautiful color of the seasoned chicken surrounded by strips of red and green peppers and lemongrass. The chicken, sautéed with those vegetables, sits on a bed of vermicelli noodles, subtly coated with caramelized sauce. Tantalizing flavors from a combination of ground peanuts and fried onions mix together, while a wedge of pickled carrots tossed with lettuce, cucumber, daikon and fresh herbs claims a “corner” of the dish, simultaneously contrasting and complementing the main dish and the peanut accents. This bowl, the same size as the pho, could easily feed two or more. Plans for leftovers might not pan out, though: it’s very hard to stop eating this.
Dessert-like Smoothies, Robust Coffee
Some standout beverages round out the menu that are simply not available anywhere else. Pho House’s amazingly refreshing, sweet and pretty smoothies (all 10!) are superb. Check out Green Tea, Red Bean or Mango flavors. The Pineapple Smoothie is a sunny yellow, a super-crushed ice treat loaded with tropical feeling and — at the base — tapioca pearls that are infinitely yummy and chewy.
The imported Vietnamese coffee makes a great finish. A robust flavor, a hint of sweetness from the condensed milk, a complex taste that progresses from sip to swallow to aftertaste — full of body, no bitterness. This (caffeinated) coffee comes iced or hot, black or with condensed milk.