There's good news for lovers of Vietnamese food. A new restaurant, Viet Pho, opened Thursday at 289-A East Plumb Lane. This is in Shopper's Square. It shares a room with a Port of Subs. The spot was previously occupied by a Korean/Japanese place called Zippi's and originally was a Burger King.
It serves fresh prepared food along with a variety of pre-made dishes kept warm. It's a Vietnamese version of the Chinese places where you point to the items you want. One item over rice is $3.50, three is $5.50.
I've eaten there once. I got a bowl of pho (pronounced fa, by the way, not foe) that I enjoyed. Pho 777 on East Second Street in Reno is still my favorite pho place because that's where I learned to like pho, but this was good.
My only complaint was that he didn't have pepper shakers so I could load it up with black pepper. I loves the pho with plenty of hot sauce and black pepper, and I had to tear open a half dozen Morton pepper packets to get close.
But the thing that makes it a good Chowhound destination, I think, are the appetizers you can buy one at a time. I had a spring roll, a "pork triangle wrapped" and a pate chaud. The pork triangle wrapped was meat inside a translucent dough and quite tasty. The pate chaud is meat in pastry and was awesome. The owner was born in Vietnam but left Saigon in 1980 and lived in France for 20 years before coming to the U.S. four years ago. The French influence, either from Vietnam or from his living in France, clearly shows up in the pastry dough. I don't want to elevate it to the level of fine French cuisine, but I'll bet there's few other restaurants in town that can turn out a pastry shell that good. Especially in a buck-twenty-five appetizer. The owner, Richard Tran, said the French typically eat pate chaud for breakfast. He was out of steamed rolls, which I think may be similar to pork buns served as dim sum. There's a couple of other appetizers and small bowls of soup available for $1.75 or less. Depending on the ingredients. pho ranges from $4 for a small bowl with just chicken or beef balls to $5.50 for a large bowl with the works.
The pre-cooked Vietnamese food is a promising variation on the regular stir-fried Chinese food served in so many strip malls and food courts.
Next time I go back I want to try one of the noodle dishes they make fresh.
For fellow Chowhounders who joined us at the Soochoow Restaurant chow down in Sparks, guess who I ran into at Viet Pho? Shu Lan. The owner of Soochow invited Shu Lan and a woman I believe to be Shu Lan's wife to join us at our Chowhound get together. Shu Lan and I chatted. He encouraged us to have a Chowhound get together at Viet Pho. I think that might be a good idea. For what it's worth, Shu Lan was trying to explain to Richard Tran the idea of the Chowhound get together and he said three times, "These people know how to eat."