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VN PHO Montgomery, Alabama

Vietnamese food is my hands down favorite food. I think that I have a Vietnamese soul.

I am unable to remember when I had my first Bun or Pho, I could eat Vietnamese food every day. While discussing Vietnamese food, I learned of VN PHO from an acquaintance that is Vietnamese-American. Although she had not yet been there, she trusted a friend. I went immediately for lunch and now I get there as often as possible.

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Located in an earnest building, I knew the moment that I walked in the door that I would love the food. The patrons sitting around their steaming bowls of golden broth and large plates heaping with fresh vegetables, all using chopsticks. The friendly staff greets you and promptly takes your order.   I flip back and forth on menu items, I want to try many new dishes but I am compelled to order the same foods because I LOVE them and so does my body. When I visit a new Vietnamese restaurant, I always have my standard order. I like to try the fresh spring rolls and Bun and of course, Pho.

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Fresh Goi cuon with house-made peanut sauce.

This food was listed at number 30 on World’s 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011.  I for one agree this dish is my personal top 10. The fresh spring rolls at VN PHO are outstanding. At $3.00, I could have these for a small lunch.

If I bring a friend to a Vietnamese restaurant who has never tried Vietnamese food, I often recommend starting with this dish. Called Bun Tom Thjt Nuong Cha Gio (grilled meats with rice noodles.) Tender grilled pork, marinated and grilled shrimp and fresh cucumbers and carrots served atop perfectly cooked vermicelli and finished with roasted peanuts. I like to pour the entire bowl of sauce over my dish. The sauce is generally made of fish sauce, water, lime juice, sugar and spicy flakes of peppers.

vnbunrolls.jpgAnother version of this dish for people who love beef would be Bun Bo Xao.  Tender grilled beef.  So delicious.

vnphobunAnd then there is the Pho.  Each time that I visit, this seems to be the item that is on most of the tables.  Pho is really not soup, more of a noodle dish with broth.  A plate brimming with bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, bok choy, lime, and peppers is served on the side and placed in the bowl to individual taste.  Each bite is a new dish.  Does it ever taste the same twice? My go to is Pho Tom.  Shrimp Pho.

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Another example of VN Pho delicious items is their Pho Ga. This dish is made of natural chicken broth and chunky pieces of tender chicken.  This dish was served to my friend with silverware, my friend had never used chopsticks and somehow the fantastic staff intuitively know when utensils are needed.

vnphochicken

If I could tell you one thing about Pho, I would say that Pho although seemingly simplistic, is very complex and flavorful. It is the favorite food of Anthony Bourdain and mine also.  He has  professed his love for Pho and Vietnamese food on many of his episodes, having said that Pho would be his “death row meal.”  I just love when he describes food to porn music.   Pho “Come to Mama Moment” Anthony Bourdain Food Porn  There are debates about Pho; where did Pho originate,  North Vietnam vs South Vietnam Pho, which herbs should be served with Pho, Pho getting bastardized in North America.

Pho, when made right is very difficult to make. This is why I do not eat it more often. Generally, it will take about 8 hours to make; some people use a 2-day method. One should have the right ingredients, fresh bones, and no MSG.   The broth should simmer for 6-8 hours and literally; must be perfectly finished, either under/over-cooked, it will not taste great. I have tried this at home a few times. This soup is unlike other Asian soup recipes and is a bit like French consommé. Of course,  the French influence in Vietnam is seen in many other Vietnamese foods.

The service at VN PHO matches the quality of the food. Perfect.  Although I do not know for certain, I speculate that this is family run.  I do know that during off school hours, there is often a young brother-sister duo that waits tables.  All parents should hope for children to be this kind, attentive and hard working.  I have had other servers at different times, their attention to detail, prompt service and follow up makes VN PHO a joyful place to eat.  I for one am truly thankful that these folks have shared their love of Vietnamese food.

MEGastars: 5 *****    I also enter this restaurant into the MEGa Hall Of Fame.  Best of my Best!

MEGatips:

  1. I want you to visit but I don’t.  Each time that I visit it seems to be a bit busier.
  2. Casual and comfortable table seating
  3. The restaurant is often full but I have never had to wait long for a table.
  4. 2759 Bell Rd, Montgomery, AL 36116 334-272-1400 :  Hours are M-Thursday 10:00-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m and Sundays from 10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. 
  5.  There are debates about Pho; where did Pho originate,  North Vietnam vs South Vietnam Pho, which herbs should be served with Pho, Pho getting bastardized in North America.
  6. The restaurant is clean and comfortable and has a fantastic food score with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  7. Large and small portions of Pho are available.

 

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