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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Pho Hanoi

Pho Hanoi

Asian lunch adventure offers unique cuisine

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

PHOhanoiI'm glad GLOB Content Editor Lynn Dirk extensively covered the wonders of Pho, Hanoi Pho, (FUH), in her feature below this one.

It has been a while since I had visited Pho Hanoi, the Asian soup restaurant on SW 34th Street near the Good Will Industries warehouse. Life must be good in this Vietnamese soup kitchen   I have always appreciated the clean, uncluttered style of most Asian restaurants. Pho Hanoi is no different in this sense. Tables are arranged to provide a spacious, albeit intimate, environment for conversation, comfort, and a leisurely lunch. PH has also added a very large salt water aquarium containing yellow tangs and other spectacular marine life.

PHOaquarium

Talk about a conversation starter for the GLOB Master. I used to own saltwater aquarium and enjoy discussing the unique process of keeping a piece of the ocean alive indoors.

No, I didn't make any smart remarks about the 'catch of the day' being from the in-house saltwater fish tank.

Pho Hanoi has an extensive menu of authentic Vietnamese cuisine from appetizers, (Khai Vi ) to tapioca noodle soup (Bnh Canh).

 

PHOsandwich350Between these Asian lunch bookends you will also find Vietnamese sandwiches (Banh mi), sliced stir fried beef and onions marinated in house seasonings, and a dish called Ham & Cha consisting of Jambon and sliced cured pork roll.

For a vegetarian lunch, Pho Hanoi offers a platter of tofu and mixed vegetables wok-fried in house seasonings call Bnh M Chay. Of course the friendly staff will be happy to make any entrée vegetarian if you ask. There is also a list of many different vegetarian entrees including pan fried egg and pan fried rice and noodle dishes.

Vietnamese crepe pancakes are available too. The crepes are prepared in a cast iron skillet with shrimp, chicken, pork, and bean sprouts served with large leaf lettuce, cilantro, and house Vietnamese Sauce.

 

PHOsoup1Not to steal Captain Dirk's thunder in the review below, I counted 15 different soups available all including your choice of either rice noodles, egg noodles, or a combination of both served with or without homemade pork broth and finished with fried shallots, chives, and a salted radish crumble. All soups include a side of fresh bean sprouts, jalapenos, lime, and thai basil.

Lastly chicken, fish, shrimp, and rice dishes are also on this multi-item lunch list.  Phew!  That's alot of information just to say this lunch stop has a long and varied list of Asian soups, sandwiches, salads, and platters available for hungry GLOBers.  There is a complete Pho Hanoi menu at a weblink below.

As you can see, we spent more time than usual reading a menu of engaging lunch ideas. Our server was very helpful in answering our questions, and my two lunch companions and I ventured into South East Asian gastronomical boundaries of Viet Nam and chose completely different directions.

 

PHOjanesSMALLPLATEaSweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard co-owner Jane Osmond went the small plate route and selected three appetizers from the Khai Vi menu. Of course her intent was to share with her husband, Mark Olson providing he understood he would share his Com Chin Tm with her. His choise was a Vietnamese shrimp fried rice with a wok-fried rice seasoned with soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, and black pepper and accompanied by bean sprouts, scrambled eggs, and scallions.

Jane's plate of appetizers made a good starter to our lunch -- Samosas:  Ground chicken marinated with yellow curry deep fried in wonton skins and served with pineapple sauce; Cha Gi: Crispy fried Vietnamese egg rolls; and Dumplings: Pan fried or steamed ground chicken dumplings served with ginger sauce.

The ginger sauce and pineapple sauce made these treats yummy. The crunch of the deep fried phyllo dough sheets combined with the spicy flavors made these SE Asian appetizers really good.

 

PHOfriedrice

Mark was presented a giant plate of shrimp fried rice that could have been easily shared by all of us for a healthy, stomach-filling lunch. Mark said he liked the assorted fresh veggies and the ample portion of shrimp.

The GLOB Master ordered a Vietnamese sandwich called Bahn mi (image at top). A Banh mi is an "authentic bite of Vietnam served on a toasted French baguette with homemade paté and mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, salt, pepper, and soy sauce." This was a very good sandwich with loads of crunch from the veggies. The peppers and cilantro sent my taste buds around the world trying to decide where the food gods sent me for lunch.

 

PHOdiningIn true Mike Sanford fashion I was enjoying my sandwich, Jane's small bites, and the most excellent conversation when the server approached asking how lunch was going.

"This is really a good sandwi . . , er, uh Jambon," I exclaimed. "Do you have some spicy mustard I could put on my sandwich?"

"No mustard here," the server said and walked away with a surprised look. I don't care, this is a great lunch stop for good friends, conversation, and an adventurous lunch.   Oh! plus a multitude of soup variations.

The Pluses and Minuses of Pho Hanoi:

The + indicators : Nice dining area, amazing menu, different tastes, textures, flavors.

The - indicator:  I think this lunch stop is for the more adventurous, 'Americanized' lunch outers.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Pho Hanoi.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

PHOsoup

Pho goodness's Sake – lunch is soup-erb

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor

On a tip from a good friend – "my favorite restaurant in Gainesville," I went to check out Pho Hanoi. This is a small, pleasant restaurant with outdoor seating. The décor is interesting, but tables are packed in.

For such a small restaurant, the menu is quite large and has great diversity – rice, egg noodle, rice noodle, rice vermicelli, crepes. The menu also has some exotic surprises, such as tripe.

The restaurant was busy and, always a good sign, customers looked to be from the culture of the cuisine served at Pho Hanoi. Of course, there aren't that many Vietnamese restaurants in Hogtown, so maybe it wasn't just the authenticity of the food, but a kind of nostalgia. Either way, the food was quite good as far as a typical 3rd generation European (me!) could tell.

The restaurant is named after the famous soup dish, pho. There is a hilarious essay on how to pronounce this Vietnamese word, generally considered to be 'fuh,' which any fuh-n loving linguist should check out. And note that the entire website is all about loving pho. As a soup lover, I have to agree – this is a pretty special soup.

I ordered chicken pho. In pho, apparently the meat is generally sliced very thin. You get a big bowl of broth containing meat and rice noodles, and then a plate of fresh "condiments": bean sprouts – if you've never had fresh bean sprouts, you are missing out, jalapeno, lime, and a kind of basil that tasted a bit like anise, which is the herb that tastes like licorice.

There is also a spectrum of sauces on the table to add: hoisin -- a thick, sweet soy-ish kind of sauce; fish sauce -- a very salty soy-ish kind of sauce; soy sauce; and sriracha -- the hot sauce of the moment.  I added all the sauces except sriracha since I was putting all the jalapenos in the soup.

The condiments are added to the hot broth and it steeps the condiments like a tea. It's a fantastic dish, and PH does a great job. It's a huge bowl of soup, and I couldn't finish it. I had a little difficulty getting the left overs into the takeout container with all the condiments. The next day (for dinner!) it was even better.

My lunch partner had a beef stir fry with rice. That seemed very ordinary compared with my pho.

The service was slow – there was only one waiter for a good number of people. Everyone else seemed to accept it. But this is not a FOTR place even though it might look like one from the outside. No, this would be a special lunch where you are taking more time than usual. One of those lunches where you would truly get away from the office culture to a culture that is usually on the other side of the world.

The Pluses and Minuses of Pho Hanoi:

The + indicators : The chicken broth was rich and the ingredients you add yourself are very fresh.

The - indicator: Service. And the food, at least the pho, does not lend itself to rushing.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Pho Hanoi.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Last modified onThursday, 14 June 2018 12:12

Additional Info

  • Phone Number: 692-4460
  • Address: 3550 SW 34 St., Gaineville, FL
  • Urban GLOB Location: 34th Street
  • Latitude: 29.621187
  • Longitude: -82.373452
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3 comments

  • scott
    scott Friday, 02 August 2013 11:22 Comment Link

    Ok, i like this place, but they have major sanitation violations. I will not eat there any more ....

  • Jana
    Jana Wednesday, 30 November 2011 15:02 Comment Link

    I love this place! If you get there early, the wait usually isn't a problem, either.

  • Sonia
    Sonia Wednesday, 30 November 2011 10:37 Comment Link

    I just recently discovered Pho Hanoi and it was love at first bowl. They are right around the corner from me, and though they are not speedy, the service is nice, and very accommodating for special requests. And, they don't mind if you have your cup from Lollicup there with you, so I can have my Thai Tea and Pho! It doesn't get any better than that.

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