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Pho


mrbigjas
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Well, it appears that the Ba Le folks took over Le Cyclo--or maybe they owned it all along, and just changed the name to appeal to more people--and call it Pho Ba Le now. We stopped in today because it's been a while since we had pho and the line at Pho Ha was long. It was interesting for several reasons: first, they use honeycomb instead of bookleaf tripe. It was cooked perfectly--not mushy and not chewy. second, they give you a chunk of the rib and stewed beef in every bowl, no matter what you order. third, there is no tendon anywhere on the menu. I asked for tendon in mine, and the waitress didn't bat an eye, just said, OK tendon--but they didn't put it in, which I didn't realize until about halfway through the bowl. Fourth, they have a spicy oily paste that they serve with it. i asked what it was, and the waitress said, "spicy sauce." I said, yes, but what is in it, and she said, "some kind of hot oil." It's delicious. fifth, they serve a huge platter of very fresh sprouts, peppers, thai basil, limes, and sawtooth herb with it. I haven't seen sawtooth at other vietnamese places around town, although I've had it in boston and new york. It tastes like cilantro, in case you're wondering. Finally, the broth was more lightly flavored and less fatty than Pho Ha or Xe Lua. Anyway, it's slightly more expensive than Pho Ha (like, $5.70 instead of $4.95 for a small), but tasty. Slightly less diner-y atmosphere. They still have tablecloths on a lot of the tables. They still have the plasma TV playing bad pop music above the bar.

That is all I have to report.

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Well, it appears that the Ba Le folks took over Le Cyclo--or maybe they owned it all along, and just changed the name to appeal to more people--and call it Pho Ba Le now.  We stopped in today because it's been a while since we had pho and the line at Pho Ha was long.  It was interesting for several reasons: first, they use honeycomb instead of bookleaf tripe.  It was cooked perfectly--not mushy and not chewy.  second, they give you a chunk of the rib and stewed beef in every bowl, no matter what you order.  third, there is no tendon anywhere on the menu.  I asked for tendon in mine, and the waitress didn't bat an eye, just said, OK tendon--but they didn't put it in, which I didn't realize until about halfway through the bowl.  Fourth, they have a spicy oily paste that they serve with it.  i asked what it was, and the waitress said, "spicy sauce."  I said, yes, but what is in it, and she said, "some kind of hot oil."  It's delicious.  fifth, they serve a huge platter of very fresh sprouts, peppers, thai basil, limes, and sawtooth herb with it.  I haven't seen sawtooth at other vietnamese places around town, although I've had it in boston and new york.  It tastes like cilantro, in case you're wondering.  Finally, the broth was more lightly flavored and less fatty than Pho Ha or Xe Lua.  Anyway, it's slightly more expensive than Pho Ha (like, $5.70 instead of $4.95 for a small), but tasty.  Slightly less diner-y atmosphere.  They still have tablecloths on a lot of the tables.  They still have the plasma TV playing bad pop music above the bar. 

That is all I have to report.

This place is in the 6th & Washington strip mall that also houses International Smokeless Barbeque.

Gary (SouthJerseyEpicurean) and I went a while back and proclaimed it to be "Le Cyclo Bizarro"! :wacko:

We had a very odd experience with the customers being segregated (Asian or Western), hard time making ourselves understood to the waiter, and really bizarre loud Asian techo-pop rave music playing the entire time we were there. I can't remember any of the other strange events but I'll ask Gary when I speak to him. It was wierd on so many levels I think I've blocked the entire experience out. :rolleyes:

I've always liked Ba Le, so hopefully the new ownership will tone down the wierd vibe.

Pho Ha made me really ill once and that was enough for me. eck15.gif That place is really kinda filthy inside in the dining room, so I can only imagine what it looks like behind the swinging kitchen doors. :unsure:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Thanks for the info. I LOVE Pho, but have not had a good bowl of it since leaving Tyson's Corner back in 2000.

And thanks for the warning re: Pho Ha...food poisoning is no joke..been there, done that..."shudders" :wacko:

Edited by shelly59 (log)
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Thanks for the info. I LOVE Pho, but have not had a good bowl of it since leaving Tyson's Corner back in 2000.

And thanks for the warning re:  Pho Ha...food poisoning is no joke..been there, done that..."shudders" :wacko:

My favorite place for pho is Pho Xe Lua in Chinatown. An Extra Large (which is basically big enough to do flip turns in) is like $6.00 or something. Cheap as dirt for more soup than you could possibly eat. The broth is very good and the other menu items are excellent as well. I hosted a DDC dinner at Pho Xe Lua a while back. Photos of our past dinner can be viewed HERE.

Food there is excellent and you can eat like a king for a pauper's price. Some of the other soups are also delicious. I like the Beef Satay Soup, and the Seafood Noodle soup as well as the variants of Pho.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've never gotten sick at Pho Ha, so I'm gonna keep going until I do.

Food there is excellent and you can eat like a king for a pauper's price. Some of the other soups are also delicious. I like the Beef Satay Soup, and the Seafood Noodle soup as well as the variants of Pho.

Yeah or the seafood tom yum or the hue-style pho! aw yeah.

Xe Lua is my definitely favorite vietnamese restaurant in town, though. No, maybe Nam Phuong. No wait, maybe the Palace. ah, who knows.

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Thanks for the info. I LOVE Pho, but have not had a good bowl of it since leaving Tyson's Corner back in 2000.

And thanks for the warning re: Pho Ha...food poisoning is no joke..been there, done that..."shudders" :wacko:

Having lived near their place in Arlington (as well as a stone's throw from Little Saigon) for many years, I have a soft spot for Pho 75 on Washington Ave. which has the same ownership as the Pho 75's in Northern Virginia.

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Thanks for the info. I LOVE Pho, but have not had a good bowl of it since leaving Tyson's Corner back in 2000.

And thanks for the warning re:  Pho Ha...food poisoning is no joke..been there, done that..."shudders" :wacko:

Having lived near their place in Arlington (as well as a stone's throw from Little Saigon) for many years, I have a soft spot for Pho 75 on Washington Ave. which has the same ownership as the Pho 75's in Northern Virginia.

Pho 75 is very good. And they've never made me hurl. That works for me.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have eaten at a Pho 75 in the NE. Is that the place you are talking about? Really great and cheap. I was w/ NAVICP guys and Major Beverly-Blanco (handsome old-school navy guy) was kind enough to introduce me to vietnamese-style coffee.... -sigh- :)

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We were at what used to be Le Cyclo last night. I had two total Vietnamese food rookies with me, folks from Argentina, and my wife, who's had Viet three or four times with me, even though she always sticks to quail and crispy spring rolls.

Parking, as usual, was a near impossibility. A few of the storefronts in the back seem to have been rolled up into one big wedding hall, and this being a Saturday night, of course they were booked. Word to the wise: if you can, conspire to get invited to a Vietnamese or Cambodian wedding. Both cultures' wedding celebrations tend to include eight to ten-course bacchanals which are not likely to be easily forgotten.

Phó Ba Le itself was more than half empty at 7:00 p.m. when we got there, and mostly white folks like us. While the wife stood post outside waiting for our victims, I had a chance to prep our waiter for two people absolutely afraid of spicy food, and ask him a few questions about the name change.

It turned out that his mother is the owner, and he explained it succinctly, thusly: "Business was a little flat, so Mom closed down for a month to think things through. She decided to change the name over to Ba Le, which is our family name, to match the rest of the chain, and we made some changes in the menu, as well."

I had Bun bo Hue (traditionally, with the blood and the pig's foot), cha gio, chim cut ro-ti, and cafe sua da. Our friends did a good bit of finger pointing at the menu as the waiter did a fair job of explaining. Karina wound up with some sort of hot pork dish with rice, Julio had beef phó of some sort, and the wife gamely tried a cold pork dish that almost looked Korean, even though half of it wound up tossed to the side. We all did iced sweet coffee, quail, and spring rolls. The coffee and the quail were a huge hit with both rookies, and Julio smacked down all of his dish and Karina's left-overs as well to keep me polite company (yeah, right) as I finished most of my broth. In fact, I got an email from them time-stamped at 3:30 a.m. that they were still up talking about it.

On the down side, though, the strange techno music continues wailing from behind the strange little bar. Despite the oddity of some of it and the forgettable parking lot scenery outside, it's still a nice combination of quality and price.

Edited by Furious Flav-or (log)
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