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DonRocks

Pho

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I stopped into Pho Thang Long today (most tragic name for a restaurant since Phucket), in the same strip shopping center as Micro Center, and was pleasantly surprised.

It's a standard Pho place, to be sure, but what it did, it seemed to do right: the broth was rich with a long-cooked aspect, the basil was actually washed (not always the case), and there were a couple things on the menu - including a Vietnamese beef stew and a can of Pennywort-Leaf soda (okay, so that's probably Thai) - that made me raise an eyebrow.

Has anyone ever noticed that, regardless of ownership, the menus always have the same number corresponding to the same Pho? Number nine, for example, seems like it's always Tai, Chin, regardless of whether you're at Pho 75, Pho Hoa, or wherever. Why is this? It hints at some sort of central, nationwide Pho-menu-printing service, not unlike those pizza boxes with that grinning Italian man that say, "Pizza ... it's the greatest!"

I don't want to belabor this for what amounts to a neighborhood Pho house, but this place was worth a stop if you're driving down Lee Highway. It has a family-owned feel to it (though there is apparently a branch in Springfield), and if this posting makes a few people try it rather than hitting the McDonald's across the parking lot, then I will have done my good deed for the day.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I remember the first time I had Pho. I don’t remember when it was, I don’t remember where it was, but I remember very well what happened that day.

I was sitting there, sneakily looking around the room trying to observe how the Vietnamese were eating their soup, when suddenly I heard the most disquieting sound I’ve ever heard in a restaurant.

Within just a few seconds, a conversation transpired within my twisting vortex, the right side of my brain not wanting to believe what I had heard, the left side having heard it all too clearly, the conversation having come straight from Shakespeare’s King Lear:

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No, I say.”

“I say yea.”

“No, no, they would not!”

“Yes, they have.”

“By Jupiter, I swear no!”

“By Juno, I swear ay!”

“They durst not do't; They would not, could not do't. 'Tis worse than murther To do upon respect such violent outrage.”

Then I slowly looked over my shoulder, and saw a gentleman squirting plum sauce out of the little plastic dispenser.

Pho 50 was a forgotten child, mainly because it’s just a quarter mile from the Godfather of Pho, Pho 75. But one day I risked all, forsook a sure bet for a gamble, and reaped the rewards of having ventured into the unknown. Pho 50 is right up there with the best of Pho in this area, nestled in a fertile-but-ordinary strip of restaurants - Celebrity Deli, Old Hickory Grill, Punjab Dhaba - in Loehmann’s Plaza in Falls Church. It’s one of the few Pho houses in the area that offers the saw-tooth herb ngo gai, which is stronger and earthier than the cilantro served alongside it.

The good but unspectacular chain Pho Hoa is out of business in Eden Center. As an aside, I’ve never had a great bowl of Pho in this huge Vietnamese shopping complex, and I’m wondering if anyone else here has.

Perhaps that’s because most restaurants in Eden Center don’t specialize in Pho, and I have yet to find a Vietnamese restaurant offering Pho as an afterthought to do it really well.

For example, in Cleveland Park there’s Nam-Viet Pho (“I dare ya to subtract 10”) 79, right in the same strip as Vace, Amernick, Le Lavandou, etc., which offers serviceable but ultimately middling Pho as only one item on their large menu.

There’s also Pho Cyclo on the corner of Gallows Road and Route 50 in Merrifield (same shopping center as Grevey’s), which serves merely ordinary Pho along with a full menu of other Vietnamese fare. I do, however, like the 3-wheeled bike in the front of Pho Cyclo, sort of a desperate attempt at motif in the midst of a dreary strip mall. What does an East Timorese taxi driver having just pedaled home from his morning shift have in common with John Holmes? They both wheeled(wield) a becak.

Have not found any Pho in this area to surpass Pho 75 in quality or consistency. Having been to the Langley Park, Rosslyn and Falls Church locations many times over the years (but the Rockville location only once or twice), I’ve come to the conclusion that not only is it the best Pho I’ve ever tried, it also tends to be consistent from bowl-to-bowl, from location-to-location.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I've frequented the Rosslyn Pho 75 location and find it consistent as well Don, but stopped going to Eden Center once Minh's opened, since Minh's surpassed Four Sisters in terms of interest, flavor and charm the day it opened and, as you said, too much of what else is there at Eden Center now is merely good. But Alexandra Greeley had a very in-depth piece in the Winter 2002 issue of Gastronomica called "Pho: The Vietnamese Addiction" and we e-mailed after the article appeared. Granted it is not as current, but here's a portion of our exchange with her perspective on this: "probably the most authentic pho is Pho Xe Lua in Eden Center, to the left of the big market. I like Pho Tay Ho at Bailey's Crossroads and there's another good place next to Mark's Duck House. My favorite in Falls Church changed owners; it was called Pho Pasteur, and I haven't been back since. Many people swear by Pho 75, but the owner, whom I interviewed, doesn't use bones or the long, slow method, saying he can get just as good results using meat only. Purists certainly would disagree. Otherwise, most restaurants use a packet of soup starter and don't begin from scratch. And for heaven's sake, never order it at a restaurant with a full Vietnamese menu; you'll just get dishwater."


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Has anyone been to Viet House? There are two in Fairfax; one on Main St. and one on Lee Highway. I ask because they are scheduled to open a third outpost on Rt. 1, south of the beltway in Alexandria. There are ZERO Vietnamese restaurants in the Mt. Vernon area and I'm hoping this new addition will fill a much wanted (by me at least) need.

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My favorite in Falls Church changed owners; it was called Pho Pasteur, and I haven't been back since. Many people swear by Pho 75, but the owner, whom I interviewed, doesn't use bones or the long, slow method, saying he can get just as good results using meat only. Purists certainly would disagree. Otherwise, most restaurants use a packet of soup starter and don't begin from scratch. And for heaven's sake, never order it at a restaurant with a full Vietnamese menu;  you'll just get dishwater."

Just had to reply, since that's quite a generalization. Never? I disagree-- An Loi (which used to be located in Wheaton Plaza before the place was turned upside-down with construction) has a very rich broth--quite tasty. My in-laws would go there quite frequently, and we had many family events there. They are now located in Columbia, MD which is a bit of a hike, but then so is NOVA for that matter...but I'll keep that place in mind near Micro Center the next time I'm out that way.

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Has anyone been to Viet House? There are two in Fairfax; one on Main St. and one on Lee Highway. I ask because they are scheduled to open a third outpost on Rt. 1, south of the beltway in Alexandria. There are ZERO Vietnamese restaurants in the Mt. Vernon area and I'm hoping this new addition will fill a much wanted (by me at least) need.

I'm sad to tell you that it's fair to middling at best. I tend to go across the street from the Lee Hwy location to Vietnam 75, usually, and that's only on the high end of okay as well.

I really like the place over by Mark's Duck House and I make trips especially to Pho 75, as well as to the place (I don't know the name) on Lee Hwy in Centreville with the sawtooth cilantro.

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We've stopped at the pho shop near Micro Center, too, and thought the pho was surprisingly decent, considering it feels a bit like it's in the middle of nowhere.

Our regular place for the past nine years has been Pho Tay Ho, in Cullmore Shopping Center at Bailey's Crossroads. It's consistently pretty good, though not superb, as it was its first few years.

We're on the lookout for the man who set up their standard recipe and cooked there before moving on to other shops years ago; he's well known in the Vietnamese community for his pho talent. He's an older, rather dapper Vietnamese man, with unnaturally black hair, fine skin, and a tendency to tent and twiddle his fingers as he stands around watching customers. If you think you spot him, post here, please!


"Hey, don't borgnine the sandwich." -- H. Simpson

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A piping hot bowl of Pho and a hot summer day do not seem to go hand-in-hand. However, I am having a HUGE craving for some good Pho. Anybody got any suggestions where I can cure this craving without travelling too far from the Fair Oaks area?


"My cat's breath smells like cat food."

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Nothing to add, but watching with interest! Bonus points if they have Vietnamese iced coffee.

Edited to add: Oh yeah, I think there's a Pho place on the 23rd street strip of Crystal City, across from the diner discussed in an earlier thread. I've never been, but I'm almost certain it exists. Any opinions?


Edited by Chef Shogun (log)

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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Well it was called Pho 75 but after visiting last week they've changed the number ... Pho 90 maybe? Either way it's right off of 29 in the shopping center with Chilis (or is it Chi Chi's? all the same to me!). Great pho - good lunch special of a summer or spring roll, regular bowl of beef/chicken/tofu pho, and a soda for something like $6.50.

11211 Lee Highway Suite A, Fairfax, VA

(703) 691-3010

As I said, I went last Friday night which was an equally sticky hot summer day - so while pho and summer don't go hand in hand I definitely understand your craving! :biggrin:


Some say the glass is half empty, some say the glass is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

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Nothing to add, but watching with interest! Bonus points if they have Vietnamese iced coffee.

I've never tried their iced coffee but yes they do have it on the menu.


Some say the glass is half empty, some say the glass is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

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Pho 75 has the best pho in town, i'd have to say. Great iced coffee too

Also try Pho Hoa, they are good.

Both have several branches but they are friggin good.


I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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in the eden center...huang que i think it is called. dont go to the 4 sisters place that is all written up about, this one is better. it is in the center of the row perpendicular to the supermarket

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I also like soup in the summer, but alas...I know nothing about pho.

What would you recommend (and sorry - steer clear of seafood)? Where (in DC) would you recommend I go?


Edited by JennyUptown (log)

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in the eden center...huang que i think it is called. dont go to the 4 sisters place that is all written up about, this one is better. it is in the center of the row perpendicular to the supermarket

I second that. We took my (Vietnamese) mom to the Eden Center once and she asked all the little old ladies where we should go. They all suggested we go here. Way better than anything else in the metro area IMHO (unless my mum is cooking, of course).

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I also like soup in the summer, but alas...I know nothing about pho.

What would you recommend (and sorry - steer clear of seafood)? Where (in DC) would you recommend I go?

Nam-Viet/Pho 79 right across from the Uptown put out a darn good bowl of pho, right there in your neck of the woods. Pretty swell curried squid, too.

On Eden Center, I agree that 4 Sisters is overrated. I haven't been to the pho place mentioned above, but the restaurant immediately next to four sisters has a long and excellent menu, including good pho.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Pho 75 (which I believe was the original Pho place in NOVA) across Graham Rd from Lohmans Plaza on Rt. 50 in Falls Church. And yes they do have Vietnamese Iced Coffee. There is also a newish place at the Plaza called Pho 50 if the line at 75 is too long -- it does move fast so you shouldn't be discouraged even if it's out the door.


Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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A piping hot bowl of Pho and a hot summer day do not seem to go hand-in-hand.

OK -- being basically a wise guy, I have to point out that we're talking about a staple of VIETNAMESE cuisine here and I don't believe that Vietnamese who drink/eat Pho do it on a chilly winter's day -- maybe during the rainy season or perhaps up in the Highlands it drops below the 80s. Now I realize that we nothern hemisphere types maynot be as gastronomically wired so as to appreciate hot soup in the summer time, but actually consuming hot beverages triggers the body's normal cooling mechanism, and some people advocate consumption of a hot drink to cool-off. This is what I constantly was told by my friends in Kuala Lumpur when I would be melting at mid-day. "Lay off the beer and have a cupa tea!" Rarely could bring myself to do it though. :laugh:


Edited by FunJohnny (log)

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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I also like soup in the summer, but alas...I know nothing about pho.

What would you recommend (and sorry - steer clear of seafood)? Where (in DC) would you recommend I go?

So all this talk of Pho--I just had to have it for lunch today! There's a place on L street between 19th and 20th called Asian Bistro Pho and Grill. Used to be Saigon Cafe, I think, but they changed owners. Maybe it's not the "best" in the area, but there is a severe lack of places downtown (that I know of, anyway) to get Pho. And it sure hit the spot for me-- :raz:

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I stopped into this place today, in the same strip shopping center as Micro Center, and was pleasantly surprised.

Pho AND hardware?! I'm there!


Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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Have not found any Pho in this area to surpass Pho 75 in quality or consistency. Having been to the Langley Park, Rosslyn and Falls Church locations many times over the years (but the Rockville location only once or twice), I’ve come to the conclusion that not only is it the best Pho I’ve ever tried, it also tends to be consistent from bowl-to-bowl, from location-to-location.

In complete agreement. I frequented Pho 75 in Falls Church weekly growing up, and it's still a regular stop. They have a branch in Philly, which I noted with delight when moving there 6 years ago, and it's just as good. What I want is for pho joints to spread like wildfire throughout the country, taking the place of McD's everywhere. Go pho!

ps. On a TOTALLY unrelated tip, how's the repair service center at that Micro Center?? Thinking of taking a laptop out there..PM me.


Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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On Eden Center, I agree that 4 Sisters is overrated.

I would've agreed with you until a recent meal where I sampled a number of dishes I'd not ordered there before, mostly what has been mentioned in reviews--the clams on crackers, the sweet shrimp soup, a whole fish with ginger and scallion--and was much much happier than I'd been before. That menu is huge, it deserves a full trip through it.

That said, I'm still a Cafe Dalat aficianado, first and foremost.


Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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That said, I'm still a Cafe Dalat aficianado, first and foremost.

I used to be a big fan of this place because I liked their grilled pork a lot, but then I had the pork at my above-mentioned place in Eden Center (Huang Que) within a day of eating at Cafe Dalat and it was quite a bit better. Still though, as I can only go to eden center when I rent a car for some other purpose, Cafe Dalat is good in a metro-accesible kind of way.

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So all this talk of Pho--I just had to have it for lunch today! There's a place on L street between 19th and 20th called Asian Bistro Pho and Grill. Used to be Saigon Cafe, I think, but they changed owners. Maybe it's not the "best" in the area, but there is a severe lack of places downtown (that I know of, anyway) to get Pho. And it sure hit the spot for me-- :raz:

Asian Bistro is under a new manager who is trying to carve a distinctive niche for -- well let's face it -- a fairly common concept. They now have brown rice as an alternative to the white for those seeking healthier carbs for example. I have not yet tried the Pho there, but I hope those who work or frequent that part of town will give them a try. They do a brisk lunchtime business and have a lot of standard Vietnamese and pan-Asian fare on the menu. Also they will soon have a beer/wine license.


Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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After hearing about Pho 50 here, we've tried it a few times and found it tasty. The broth has not had the depth of that at Pho Tay Ho, but still it was better than many places. The quality of meat and other ingredients was very good. We're lucky in northern VA to have pho places every few miles, it seems. A lot of them are no great shakes, but we're spoiled.

I'm looking forward to trying Huong Que. It sounds like a find, since it's not really typical for a Vietnamese restaurant to have both excellent pho and an excellent general menu. I don't always feel like eating pho, especially in hot weather, but my Vietnamese SO craves it year-round.


"Hey, don't borgnine the sandwich." -- H. Simpson

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