Pho Hoa Binh (CLOSED)

Great buffet deal for $5

Today, I went to my first Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Hoa Binh. I decided to go there after reading the reviews about the place and it's popular entrée, lemongrass tofu.
With me being on a tight budget, I opted for the lunch buffet where I got my fill from various items that were prepared. Before I go on, I'll admit that I wasn't a fan of tofu. This can be attributed to an encounter I had at Sekisui, a Japanese restaurant near Pho Hoa Binh. Because of the overwhelming popularity of PHB's tofu dishes, I decided to give it a second try. This time around, it was a lot better and I wasn't disappointed. Although all of the tofu dishes were good, I will go against the grain by declaring my favorite was the curry tofu (by the way, I know it's a traditional Thai dish). It was creamy, spicy (to the point that it didn't need Sriracha sauce) and overall delicious. As for the oft-mentioned lemongrass tofu, I liked it as well even though it tasted somewhat dry. To be fair, it was the last portion of lemongrass in the pot and might have been there for a while. I'm sure it will be better on my next visit, just like the barbecue was on my second visit to Jack's Bar-B-Q Rib Shack (lesson: don't judge a restaurant solely by its buffet). In addition to the tofu, also had the chicken wings that were average. However, I was cool with it given that I wasn't there for the wings. As for this being my first "Vietnamese" experience, it was memorable and it only cost $5.19.

UPDATE (July 30, 2013): I had the lemongrass tofu for the second time and loved it! I still don't like it as much as the curry tofu, but I won't hold that against it. By the way, the cabbage and carrot soup (the bowl at the top of the second picture) was really good, too. Also, the buffet now cost $6.22.

Finally, I want to stress that Pho Hoa Binh's customer service was excellent (completely opposite of its nearby competitor P & H Cafe; please read my review). Overall, it was a great experience and I will return.

Was originally posted on Urbanspoon on July 20, 2010

Pho A Good Time

While updating my review of Pho Hoa Binh (or "Pho Binh" that's displayed on the restaurant's sign), I realized that my assessment of the restaurant wasn't complete. To me, I didn't make sense to blog about a Vietnamese restaurant with "Pho" in its name without mentioning an entrée that likely inspired it. So to make this right, I decided to try one of its pho dishes during Pho Binh's dinner hours.

After looking over the menu, I chose the Pho Tai which features slices of beef. In addition to that, the Vietnamese soup dish had the customary noodles along with bits of culantro, onions (including scallions, aka "green onions") and other herbs and spices. The sum of it was a noodle soup with a pungent taste that was spicy and somewhat minty. The green onions were very profound in the pho with the beef merely a supporting cast member. The herbal presence of the culantro negated the need for the accompanying basil leaves that I got as a side item (along with bean sprouts). In all, the huge bowl of Pho Tai was quite tasty and a good experience for me. While I can't see myself ordering it on a regular basis, Pho Tai and similar dishes can be a nice diversion if I'm ever bored with my typical fare of bar food and Southern cuisine.

SIDE NOTE: Whenever I get pho again, I will use chopsticks to eat it. In using a fork and spoon to consume it, I made a bit of a mess. Although my experience in the Asian utensils is thin, I believe I would fare better in grasping the thin noodles with chopsticks than eating it like spaghetti. I guess I should have taken a hint from the other diners who ate their pho the right way.

Along with the pho, I got spring rolls as sides. Filled with shrimp (tofu is the other available option), lettuce and noodles, the spring rolls were bland. The accompanying peanut-based dipping sauce didn't help, and neither did Sriracha sauce. Fortunately, they were okay after I dipped them in my pho. While they weren't impressive, I might order the spring rolls again if I can get a salad dressing/vinaigrette to go with it.

Overall, my latest experience at Pho Binh was very pleasant and insightful. Although noodle soup won't likely be my first choice whenever I'm getting Vietnamese food, I appreciate the quality and expertise that goes into a pho dish. I urge others to try it whenever they get the chance, if for no other reason than to gain enlightenment. As a consequence, some might even enjoy it.


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Pho Hoa Binh on Urbanspoon

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