May 2, 2012

Pho DC

Location: 608 H St NW (Gallery Place Red/Yellow/Green)
Cost: $20
Pho DC on Urbanspoon

Day 2 of the apartment hunt, and today was a hot one.  Not in the way apartments (I only saw one).  But it was 84 degrees and humid.  94% humidity?  I haven't seen that since I was back home in Florida for the summer.  Today, I sweat myself into hunger and, in my infinite wisdom, decided to get hot noodle soup for lunch.

I just happened to be near Gallery Place at the time, so I strolled on down to Chinatown and found this little place, Pho DC.  Well, they got the food and city name right, so we're in good shape.  I actually walked into their downstairs snack/bubble tea shop by mistake, so for future reference, look (and walk) up!

I decided to grab a seat at the bar, which was manned by (gasp!) an Indian dude.  At a pho shop?  I'm starting to get a little worried.  Fortunately, I overheard the familiar sound of foreign language X (Vietnamese?) being spoken in the back of the house, so we're good.  Unfortunately, Taylor Swift was being blasted over the PA as I sat down.  Oof, who am I kidding?  I'm a closet Swift fan, and the music only added to the place's charm.

After looking through the menu, I settled on the classic combination beef noodle soup with rare brisket, well done beef slices, tendon, & tripe.  To start, though, I ordered their Jacket Shrimp, an interesting appetizer made by frying a spring roll - itself filled with ground chicken, taro, and white pepper - around an unrolled jumbo shrimp.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a soup spoon and chopsticks as the default utensils; the bartender gave me a fork and knife only after I ordered the Jacket Shrimp.  Nice touch.  Not more than 5 minutes later, I was presented with this:

You get three, it comes with a nice little salad to make yourself feel better about eating one fried appetizer wrapped around another, and some sweet & sour sauce for dipping.

These little buggers were tasty.  It helps that they came out piping hot from the fryer, but the spring roll outer layer provided the perfect complement to the juicy fried shrimp center.  The white pepper adds just enough of a kick to round out the flavor profile.  I loved this dish, and I wish more vietnamese restaurants offered this or other creative appetizers...the shrimp summer rolls with peanut sauce gets old after the umpteenth time.

The pho comes with all the usual refinements: plenty of fresh bean sprouts, basil, jalapenos, a lime wedge, and sriracha/hoisin sauces.  I loved the triangular bowl that was large enough to fit my face from forehead to chin.

The soup itself was nice and flavorful, and the taste/texture of the meats was done well.  I was surprised by the amount of food they give you; maybe I'm used to pho restaurants giving you more than your body weight in noodles, but I expected more volume from a $12 bowl of pho (more than I've ever paid for one bowl of pho, actually).  Overall, it wasn't the best bowl of pho I've ever had, but it's quality stuff.

For offering convenient access to pho, creative apps, but making me sweat more than I wanted to on a hot day (fine, that one was my own fault), Pho DC earns 3 Cherries.


  1. Their centralized air-conditioning is worthy of notice and citation. But moving on to the food, they serve them all fresh, chilled or steaming hot. I love their spicy tamarind Pho, gives a bit of warmth in a cold day.