I have to confess that outside of the food Holy Trinity of Italian-Chinese-Mexican, I’d have to say Vietnamese is my next, most favoritest food type. With the mix of Asian and French flavors, the cuisine is very similar to Chinese but tweaked a bit with some slightly different flavor profiles and spices. And it can be done in so many different ways: on bread (banh mi), on rice (com) and on noodles (bun). So when I heard that Pho Vietnam was opening up in the old Hot Point Cafe space on Buck Jones, I was pretty excited since that area is within my work-lunch range. After stalking it for a month or so, I finally see online that it’s open and the reviews are coming in. Zero will-power here, I had to stop in today for an inaugural lunch!
The space here looks a lot different then what I remember from Hot Point outside of the patio area outside. Inside there’s more light, more white and and odd ordering set up. By the kitchen area there’s a cash register where you put in your order. No counter, just tell the man up front what you’d like! The menu here is sorta small for Vietnamese, about five pho’s, a handful of rice and bun dishes and some house specials. I ask the gentleman up front if they’ve ever had a restaurant before and he shakes his head no, so we’re talking about restaurant newbies. It looks like they’ve still got more work to do on the space but we are still here to eat! My friend orders up the grilled pork and egg roll bun so I decide to go different and do the beef pho (assorted cuts) and order a banh mi, side-snack. Don’t judge, I’m taking it home for dinner later! Or so I thought…
Pho Vietnam is the real VN deal, they’ve got holders at each table with sriracha, soup spoons and wooden chopsticks. But don’t fret if you’re not an expert with sticks, there are forks in the back if you can’t deal with those bad-boys. The place already is sorta busy with Vietnamese folks so I’m hopeful. They bring out a smallish plate of condiments (bean sprouts, jalapeno, basil and lime). A bit less than what I’d expect at my other VN favorites. My smallish bowl of pho comes in a red deep bowl and is flecked with a bit of oil and quite clear. Thin slices of beef are cooking in the broth, I squeeze some lime in, tear some basil leaves up and drop in some crunchy sprouts, yum! The noodles for this pho is a bit thicker and substantial, the broth here is decent but a bit under-spiced although I’m sure with some additions it’ll be fine. But overall I found this pho to be an acceptable bowl, but not particularly flavorful or inexpensive. The summer rolls I ordered to start were decent but the peanut sauce on the side was darker (hoisin) than usual and stronger than I like.
So I get back to the office and my overall thought is that I liked Pho Vietnam. It’s a decent VN pho shop but definitely a cut below Pho Far East and a bit more expensive. But you know what? I’m still glad to have it in the hood and within my lunching range cause I’ll be back. Sometimes you’re just in the pho-mood and this place will take care of your craving. And the banh mi? Well, I tore into that back at the office (yeah, I’m a pig) and it was solid. Needed a bit more meat and spread but fine for the $4 I paid. So here’s to Pho Vietnam bringing some more authentic Asian eats to W. Raleigh/Cary. While it could be better, it’s certainly good enough..
1284 Buck Jones Road
Raleigh, NC 27606