Pho places seem to be springing up everywhere…well, at least more of them are becoming more central to my location, which I appreciate. There are two or three new places I have been waiting to try and this was one of them. The BFF and I headed over there for lunch and laughed because we knew this strip mall from our very young days, as we grew up nearby. Don’t let the scary dark wood/slightly run down vibe of the outside scare you away; they have done a nice job on the inside of this place. It’s cute and very clean. The menu is big and has Thai and Laotian food as well as Vietnamese.
But, when your name is “Pho Real,” you kinda have to try the pho right? At least on your first visit. But since it was a new place, and we were kinda in the mood, we also ordered some appetizers. We ordered the dumplings ($7.75) and the fried tofu ($5.95). I really liked the fried tofu. It had a nice firm, yet crispy crust that you had to break through to get to a very silky (and hot!) interior. It was served with a very mild sauce to dip in, but it had a slight acidic flavor and I liked it. I also ended up dropping them last piece or two into my pho and that was really good too. They kept their shape even in the broth. The dumplings were pretty tasty too. They were stuffed with pork and a bit of shrimp and served with that vinegar/soy sauce. Maybe not as tender as I would like—the filling was pretty dense—but they had a good flavor.
I ordered the rare beef pho (Pho #1) ($9.99), which is my classic choice. It’s a deep beef broth with thin rice noodles, cilantro, scallions and it was seasoned with some black pepper it seemed. Oh, and the rare beef of course. I always squeeze my lime in there too from the fresh side plate, as well as throwing in a couple of the slices of jalapeno to steep and spice up the broth. Then I put in the basil and bean sprouts for a bit more flavor and texture. I tend to add a bit of chili sauce—here the only choice was Sriracha, so that’s what I used. I put a bit of soy in as well. Anyhow, that’s how pho is—you kind of doctor it up to your taste. But the thing that makes or breaks pho (or puts it on the just ok list anyway) is the broth. And this broth was very good. It had a very deep flavor and this is up there with my favorite bowls of pho in town so far. Mine also had nice, tender thin slices of beef that seemed a little more flavorful than many, even my favorite, Pho Tasty. Like I said, I also liked throwing my tofu in there as well.
My BFF had the veggie pho ($8.99) and she seemed to really like it. I was too busy eating all of mine to even try it, but she said it was definitely one of the better vegetarian broths she has had in town. She didn’t love the big hunks of bok choy, because they were almost impossible to eat. If you don’t have a knife, I do believe food should be in bite-sized pieces.
Overall though, this was a great find. And they have lots of great sounding Thai dishes I would be interested to try as well. They also have beer and wine.
9611 N. College Ave