I've been to pho tu do a long time ago, but my friend set up a dinner with a bunch of friends and he picked pho tu do. They used to be across the street, but recently moved a bigger space across the street. The place looks typical chinatown, sort bright white lights, its got some blue lights on the ceiling and white tiled floor, which they need to mop btw b/c they were sort of slippery.
The owner is a very nice guy and they are actually vietnamese, not chinese people from vietnam unlike most viet places in ctown, which are run by chinese from vietnam. He thought i was vietnamese b/c he said i could pronounce the names of the viet dishes well (picked up all the names by going to little saigon in CA alot, its fairly close to where i live...i love the food there) and thats how we got to talking. Said he's owned the restaurant for like 16 years; he speaks good english and also speaks viet and cantonese
Here's what i got:
- banh cuon (rice crepe): bahn cuon is a thin steamed rice crepe that is filled minced meat and mushrooms served with boiled bean sprouts and a steamed bologne type thing and covered with crispy fried onions (they are actually fried for 45 mins if you make them yourself, i learned this from the guy a place in CA, who was very interested in me bc he said i was one of the only non-viet people who goes there). For a long time i thought banh cuon was a inferior version of chinese cheung fan until i tried it at a specialist in CA which was literally a revelation for me; viet food is literally one of my favorite foods now, i think it could eat it everyday. You can read my report about it here and see a picture of it on yelp (i'm R.L. on yelp):
Anyhow, it was nowhere near that good here, although its passable. The rice crepe itself was fairly decent, nice and soft. The filling was a bit bland, which was the problem. But once it got some nuoc mam and chili sauce on it, it was tasted decent.
- bun cha gio: i'm in love with cha gio, which are fried viet spring rolls. I think they are the best spring rolls ever when you dip them in nuoc mam (a sweet viet fish sauce). So i love bun cha gio, which is a cut up cha gio over noodles, below the noodles are lettuce and mint leaves and some cilatro i think. You mix it all up and dip it in nuoc mam and some chili sauce, its wonderful when done right. It was pretty decent here, the spring rolls were a little too thin, but overall had a good flavor and weren't too greasy. The noodles also weren't overcooked, alot of the places in ctown tend to overcook the rice noodles.
- pho bo (beef noodle soup): my friend ordered this, but i wanted to try it to see if it was any good. It was decent, probably one of the better bowls you can get in ctown (although that isn't saying much b/c most pho in manhattan is really bad). The broth had a nice beef flavor, although it was lacking the great complexity that you get when you have really good pho broth, you could also taste the star anise, but it wasn't overpowering. Overall, its a passable bowl of pho, so its worth trying if you are craving viet food.
Overall, it was a decent meal and its probably one of the better viet restaurants in ctown.