A former roommate of mine was in town on her honeymoon last weekend, so I had an excuse to finally go out to dinner (I've been in Portland for about two weeks now, but due to post-moving poverty I haven't been able to explore the restaurants yet). I remembered her husband searching unsuccessfully for Pho in Madison, so suggested that we go to Pho Van since we were meeting right by there at Powell's. It smelled wonderful when I had walked by earlier and had some vegetarian options.
When we got there, the wait for a table was 30 - 45 minutes. We were all starving, but didn't want to settle for something else, so put our name in and went to Teazone for some iced tea and snacks (love those pink tea cookies!).
Our table was ready soon after we got back to Pho Van. I will admit to being a sucker for gimmicks and I really liked the unfolding bamboo menu thingy as well as the little baskets the chopsticks were in. Our waitress was really nice and helpful. As I am a very Picky eater, I was happy to hear that the kitchen could leave out ingredients or otherwise alter dishes.
We ordered salad rolls as an appetizer, duck noodle soup, chicken pho, a vegetarian curry, and a crispy spring roll noodle bowl thing. I forget all the actual names of these things, and I don't have my takeout menu here.
(Aside: I'm an obsessive menu collector, in part because of my forgetfulness. I've noticed that in Portland it is much harder to get menus than it was in New York. You have to actually go inside the restaurant and even then they are usually not set out, but have to be requested... I wonder why that is.)
The food was really great. The salad rolls were the small kind, not those monsters that are messy and hard to fit in your mouth, and the peanut sauce was perfect. I wasn't crazy about the broth in the duck soup; it tasted sort of dusty. Otherwise everything was great. I will definitely be back again, if only to get a big plate of salad rolls all to myself!