****THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED AND BEEN REPLACED BY PHO TASTY*****
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 reason. 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