Laura has a meeting, and I’ve got a new restaurant. I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to try Pho #1 around the corner from our house.
This place started as a Pizza Hut, and retains that distinctive architecture. In the intervening years, the building has housed Mexican and Italian restaurants. A couple of years ago, Pho opened, and seems to be doing fairly well.
To have been a former Pizza Hut, the interior is now quite elegant. There are neutral light tones, very nicely upholstered tables and booths, and elegant
There is an extensive selection of appetizers, including at least four types of spring and egg rolls. Therer is Chicken Satay, as well as several other Asian dishes and salads. The prices of these ranged from $3.00 to $7.00, and some looked like they could be light meals by themselves.
The entre’s included several types of Pho, ranging from $7.00 up to about $10.00. These could be had with chicken, beef, seafood, or tofu. There were also several rice and egg noodle dishes, a couple of teriyaki stir fries, and some curry dishes, all similarly priced.
There is a seperate menu for sushi. Single nigri started at $1.75, with rolls ranging from $3.00 on up.
I started with a spicy tuna roll. That it was, indeed. The sushi was quite good, but I did find myself sipping from water quite liberally. Still, it was tasty.
For the main course I ordered the Pho with a variety of cuts of beef, including ribeye, flank steak, and meatballs. The dish arrived in a large bowl with a side of basil leaves and bean sprouts which could be added. My utensils included chop sticks, a Chinese soup spoon, and a fork. These were to prove completely inadequate to the task.
This version of Pho was actually several dishes in one. First, there was the broth, which made a nice savory soup with enough spice to make it interesting. Hidden within this was a huge ball of compactly wound rice noodles. Eating these was a challenge. I had to use my chop sticks to loosen the mass, then use the fork to try and pull some noodles free.
Then there was the meat. The pieces were placed in the broth slightly less than done, with the intent that they finish cooking in the hot broth. This process is common to Asian cuisine, most notably the Chinese Hot Pot. Understanding the process lessened my dislike of seeing semi-raw meat floating in my soup. However, it was the quality of the cuts themselvess that really, literally, turned my stomach. Most were stringy, with long tenacious pieces of grisle. Some looked completely inedible. I had no knife and no way of cutting the meat. At one point I nearly choked on a piece, which pretty much ruined the meal from there on out.
With my stomach churning, I planned to order some of the flan they had on the menu to see if a plain custard would calm things down. I was informed it wasn’t available. Oh well.
The one waitress (and, I suspect, part owner) was friendly enough, but service was quite slow.
The flavors were quite nice. However, the experience of choking on a poor piece of meat pretty much ruined my taste for Asian cuisine of any type for several days. I literally felt ill the next day. I would like to think it would have been different if I’d ordered chicken instead. But, given this experience I don’t think I’ll give them that second chance.
That being said, it did appear that several of the patrons are regulars, including one family with kids. I hope, for the restaurant’s sake, that my experience was the exception.