Thursday, February 13, 2014

V Cafe Ok Vietnamese Noodlehouse


High off of a good pho lunch at Pho 54 the other day, I was motivated to try a new place right near my house. That’s right, a new independent place in Castleton! I was interested in seeing what theirs was like soon after having one that I felt was really good for comparison.

So I met up with my BFF for lunch. We were the only ones there for a while but the owner was very friendly—we started with pork and shrimp spring rolls (2 for $4). I liked these—I didn’t get a lot of shrimp in them, but they were super fresh and crisp and not just filled with a bunch of cabbage. They were the thinner rice paper wrappers, rather than the thicker wonton wrappers. They were crunchy and tasty when dipped into the seasoned fish sauce.
I liked that the pho came in two sizes (this seems to be more common than I remember), although having always ordered the smaller version, and never being able to finish it, I can’t imagine being able to finish a large. Anyway, I had the small beef pho ($8) which had fairly large pieces of thin beef (I am guessing what is usually the “rare” beef when its thrown in, some hunks of slow cooked beef, a meatball or two and some tendon-ish pieces.  They were fairly generous with the meat in the soup, but this was one where the broth just didn’t have that long-cooked deep flavor. The meatballs were kind of tough and not my favorite—although in general I prefer a bowl of just the rare beef in my pho rather than the other more chewy bits. They also gave a much smaller plate of the fresh herbs to throw in; particularly considering the plate you see there is to season two bowls (the BFF had the same).  There were lots of fresh onions in the soup that lent to the crunch, which I liked. Overall though, the pho here met the need, but just didn’t satisfy the craving the same way.

I liked that the menu is very small—only 6-8 items on the menu. They are clearly focusing on particular things for a reas
on. I am intrigued by the beef cubes with rice. It sounds like a dish I enjoyed at Vietnamese places in San Francisco. I will have to go back to try it one of these days. I also liked the friendliness and enthusiasm of the owner. The restaurant is bigger than you’d guess from the outside (these strip mall places always surprise me) and very clean. And it is a welcome change from the Castleton chains, even if it isn’t the best Vietnamese in town. I’d be curious to hear if any of you guys have been there.

(Random: Anyone notice how their sign looks remarkably similar to the check-cashing place next door?)

V Café OK
8328 Center Run Drive
Indy 46250


  1. I have only had Pho in two places in Indy - EggRoll #1/Pho #1 (southeast side), which was fantastic, and King Wok (west side) which was good. I am looking forward to trying these other places!

  2. I am headed here for lunch today. Wish me luck! I have never had Pho.

  3. I don't know about anyone else, but I've been really waiting for more Vietnamese options on the North side. Super Bowl Pho in Wesfield was good, my wife and I are looking forward to another visit. The owner runs the register and waits tables, he was very nice. I am sure it's similar to other restaurants with pho as an option, you probably want to get it in the restaurant. The pho broth was still hot and delicious, but the rice noodles got cold and stuck together. This wouldn't have been an issue, but we got a bowl to split since we also got two banh mi. Separating the noodles before putting them in our individual bowls was a bit of a challenge.

    Overall, however, I compare it favorably to the other pho we've had in Indy and Chicago.

    1. Good to know--I didn't know about Super Bowl Pho, will have to give it a try.

  4. Okay, so I attempted to go for lunch. It is right near where I work. They are not opened on Monday. So I tried to go to Dj's hotdogs. THEY ARE CLOSED AND THE SITE IS FOR SALE!

    1. oh no! that sounds like some of my attempts at lunch lately! Where did you end up?

    2. I only get a half hour for lunch, and after all that running around I didn't have time. So I ate a sad Jimmy Johns sandwich. Boo.

  5. I rank the pho in Indianapolis that I have experienced like this:

    Super Bowl Pho in Westfield
    Sandra Rice & Noodle on Pendleton Pike
    V Cafe Ok in Castleton
    Pho 54 on Michigan
    Viet Bistro in Castleton

    I can't wait to try out the other places mentioned.

    I wish a more authentic pho places would open up around Hamilton Co. as well.

  6. My wife and I are Pho lovers too. We have attempted to eat at all Pho restaurants in the area. Top billing for Pho goes to King Wok for the flavor of broth (the meatballs are awesome too). We stopped going there only because our spring rolls were coming out cold. The service there is the best too, (besides spring roll issue), whereas service in Vietnamese restaurants is notoriously spotty.

    Second place goes to PHo 36 in Avon. Could be discounted for having an American owner/waiter, Mike. But rest assured, his wife is Vietnames and in the kitchen, and he speaks Vietnamese. He sources his own jalapenos so that they are extra spicy. Also, if there are any bun left over, ask for some.

    Saigon or K&T Deli tied for third but we would go to K&T Deli because the Bahn Mi selection is so big (8 or 9 different ones). I like the owner too. LA transplant and he owns the vietnamese market down the road. Although, there is no better single bahn Mi than Saigon's grilled pork bahn mi. The owner could make a living in a food truck just selling that but Saigon has a huge menu. They are all within a mile of each other.

    We go to Viet Bistro just because we live on North side but the Pho isnt the best. Too much noodle and pho is not flavored the best. Fried pork spring rolls there are amazing though.

    I wasnt blown away by Egg Roll 1, Sandra Rice and noodle or Super Bowl Pho. We live in Noblesville so we would have loved for Super Bowl to be great, but the flavor of the Pho is too off for me. Its the most untraditonal and has almost a sweet flavor and is missing salt. The bahn mi's are also second rate. I gave it three or four chances but just rather drive to lafayette road.

    Best Pho ever, Tank Noodle in Chinatown in Chicago. Went on New Years day, sat next to Bono who had to raise his glass and shake the empty ice around to alert the waiter he needed a refill. The place packed full of vietnamese and noone knew who he was. I loved it. We are all equal in the Pho house.