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Restaurants & Bars

Pho Palace, Hayward: The Soup And The Sandwich

Shepherd B. Goode | Jul 23, 200208:36 PM     2

Cruisin Hesperian, lookin for chow. Oops, there's that elusive Vietnamese place, "across from the carwash", as noted, I think by Wendy-san, a long time ago. In we go. Big square bare white room. Server stares at me silently till I order, "Sate beef noodle soup (spicy)". This stuff comes without condiments, but with a European fork and spoon.

The Soup

This soup is bright yellow, with a dense red surface layer. The aroma is more salty than I expect, almost like a chile con carne, or...a sate sauce. Besides the usual ball of rice noodles, my soup contains a lot of chunks of cucumber and tomato, and six slices of what most places call "rare beef". It is very hot, temperature-wise, and the noodles are cooked soft by the time I'm done. Capsicum-wise, the dish has some warmth, plenty enough to raise a pleasant glow on the epidermis, but nowhere close to a comparable Thai soup, for instance. Or to my pho, when I dump in the jalapenos. The broth was OK; the temperature kind of overwhelmed the flavor. Tastiest part was the tomatoes, which evidenced a sort of buttery meaty mouth-feel. Overall, not unsuccessful; I'd order the same again. $5.50 for a large bowl; $4.50 a medium.

The Sandwich

So, I got a couple banh mi to go; most of the Asian customers who came in while I was eating were getting banh mi only. When I got them out at dinnertime, they were no longer warm, but the bread was still soft. Instead of the usual crusty mini-loaf of French-style bread, these were presented on sections of a larger, softer-crusted loaf. Unlike banh mi I'm used to, which always seem mostly a way to flavor up a loaf of bread a little, these were more like American sandwiches, with a substantial filling of whatever the meat was. My grilled pork had a slightly salty marinade, and a nice hint of charcoal; the standard cucmber, carrot shreds, cilantro, little mayonnaise, and a dark brown almost plum sauce but saltier, rounded out the sandwich. Very nice, and very solid. The grilled chicken was pretty much unnoticeable; I ate a quarter, and gave the rest away. Maybe it would have been good by itself; I got it because a lot of the other customers did so. $2.75 each for pork, chicken, ham, "fancy pork patty", pork meat ball, or the Hog-farmer's Special of fancy pork patty, pork leg, and ham.

Wish this place had been open when I worked in Hayward.

Pho Palace
17850 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo
In the strip mall on the east side of the street, by Wherehouse Records.
510-317-8838
10 AM--9 PM daily
rice plates, noodle soups, hot and cold vermicelli, grilled meats

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