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Pho & Cafe Viet Huong review

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Restaurants & Bars

Pho & Cafe Viet Huong review

mookleknuck | May 2, 2012 01:01 PM

TL;DR version: get the banh mi and try the summer rolls.

Also known as Viet Huong Restaurant, this is the restaurant near the Hung Vuong supermarket plaza, located at 1100 Washington Avenue in Philadelphia.

My Vietnamese friend and I stopped in on a Friday around 8P, which was surprisingly empty (people seemed to prefer dining after 845 at this place). The dimly-lit place seemed clean and had dated decor. Evenly split between whites and Asians, most white patrons were in their twenties while many of the Asian patrons were families or older couples. There were a lot of very attentive-looking staff standing around, which was reflected in the prompt and efficient service we later received. The teapot was refilled often, dishes were regularly cleared, and our waiter cracked jokes.

We ordered the shredded pork summer roll, crispy shrimp roll, grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane, lotus salad with pork and shrimp, the first banh mi listed in the sandwich section, and a crispy pan-fried noodle dish with seafood. Everything came out quickly, as soon as they were ready.

The two summer rolls may have been premade, but the skin was still pliable with no visible cracks. There was a healthy dose of mint and a well-balanced amount of protein, herbs, and lettuce. They were pretty large, but the pork could have used more seasoning. (Note: the same dressing came out for all of the appetizers and also the salad.) The crispy shrimp roll was nothing special, but were small, measuring about 3" long and 3/4" in diameter. The grilled shrimp paste on sugar cane was fine and the sugar cane was enjoyably charred and still juicy enough to gnaw.

The lotus salad was a very large portion with healthy, American-sized amounts of protein. Unfortunately, my friend and I agreed that the salad should have been dressed ahead of time to allow the lotus to marinate and absorb some of the dressing. The banh mi was my favorite of the evening; for $3.50, a 10" baguette piled with meat and pickle and lightly dressed made it the best value of the night also. The crispy pan-fried noodles came with broccoli, baby corn, carrots, shrimp, cuttlefish/squid/octopus (we weren't sure which it was, but one of those cephalopods!), and two scallops in a very light sauce. This was a Cantonese-style dish, and despite being in the mood for fried noodles, we were very disappointed in the lack of seasoning and the less-than-perfectly-fresh vegetables.

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