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Restaurants & Bars 7

West Philly Pho

Jesse DUBUS | Oct 1, 2003 03:47 AM

Some friends and I checked out the new Vietnamese restaurant on Spruce last Friday. The place was packed when we got there around 7:30 or 8 and we were told the wait would be half an hour. This seemed unlikely since there were only a couple and a group of four in front of us so we stuck around and were seated in five minutes.

We did have to wait quite a while for our order to be taken, however. The kitchen was way backed up and the staff was frantic and disorganized, with waiters taking turns acting as hosts/hostesses and taking take-out orders. Despite being inefficient though the staff was friendly and managed not to stress out too much in general. Best of all our waiter brought us an extra order of shrimp rolls apparently b/c of the slow kitchen.

The menu was fairly large and detailed so we used the long wait for service to look it over in detail. I ended up ordering broken rice with a pork chop, shredded pork, and egg quiche while my friends got chicken cooked with lemongrass and vermicelli and plain noodle soup, which is the closest thing to a vegetarian item on the menu (I think it still has a beef stock).

Despite the crush the tiny kitchen was under the food came out faster than we expected and was very good. The pork chop was delicious and tender enough that I only needed chop sticks to eat it with. I'd never had a Vietnamese egg quiche before and loved it...does anyone know what's in these?

the chicken with lemongrass is served cold though the menu doesn't specify this and really seemed like a spring roll without the rice paper. The lemongrass was difficult to detect. The soup seemed good but I'll reserve judgement until I can get my own with beef and a healthy splash of sriracha sauce.

We stuck to fried pork spring rolls and cold shrimp spring rolls for appetizers which were solid. If getting the waiter's attention hadn't been so difficult I would have had a lychee milkshake from the extensive beverage menu. The restaurant has a refrigerated case near the front with the fresh fruit for their drinks displayed...seems promising.

We're looking forward to going back, but it's probably best to avoid going there on weekends for the time being. Especially if it's too cold for outdoor tables. Takeout seems to be very popular; there were always a handful of people standing around in the corner waiting for food.

It's worth mentioning too that the most expensive item on the menu is $5.75 and nearly everything is $5.50 besides some of the simpler soups.

Seems like this place will have no problem finding business...

-Jesse

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