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Restaurants & Bars 4

Pho King Good in Seaside

e.d. | Jul 27, 200501:38 PM

I was excited when I read at chowhound that the peninsula finally got a real Vietnamese restaurant. I have had several meals at the Orient Café, but I found the only meal I really liked there was the sour shrimp soup. Another Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant was briefly open on Broadway around 1996, but it didn't last long enough for most people to try it.

The first time I went to Pho King, I had to try the pho. I chose number one with rare beef, tendon, tripe, brisket, and meatballs. A previous poster had been somewhat disappointed with the beef stock, but on the day of my visit it was excellent. The soup had a robust beef flavor that made the whole dish a success. It came with the usual garnishes--basil, bean sprouts, and sliced jalapeños. The noodles were plentiful and perfectly cooked. The various types of beef offered a range of textures. The rare beef was a bit chewy, the tendon gelatinous, the tripe crunchy, the brisket oh so tender, and the meatballs a bit rubbery. If I had any complaint, and I have to search for one, it was that they brought me the large size bowl without asking which size I wanted. But then, I probably looked like a large sized person and it was the perfect size for my lunch.

On another visit, I tried two of their appetizers. The spring rolls, with noodles, lettuce, and thinly sliced pork on the inside and whole shrimp visible just under the wrapper, were fine but not special. The rolls were served with standard peanut sauce.

But the highlight of this visit was the shrimp and pork crepe. The eggy crêpe batter was cooked until crispy and then folded over bean sprouts, pork, and shrimp. The dish was served with red lettuce leaves, mint leaves, basil, and fresh cilantro. The helpful server explained that the best way to eat the crêpe was to cut it up and place the pieces along with one's choice of mint, basil, and/or cilantro in a large piece of lettuce leaf, dip the combination into the standard Vietnamese dipping sauce, and pop it into the mouth. I found this a tasty and unusual dish.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Pho King. Sorry about the bad joke in the subject line, but I couldn't resist.


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