Location: 1436 Park Rd NW (Columbia Heights Metro)
My dad came road tripped up to DC with me to help me move, and in return, I wanted to show him around DC. He's not a big monument and museum guy, but I know he loves his food, so like a good son, I diligently scoured restaurant reviews in search of hearty asian food for the two of us to enjoy. We just happened to be in Columbia Heights buying a mess of apartment stuff at Target, and stumbled across Pho 14 on our way back to the car.
I love the Columbia Heights / Mt. Pleasant area. The idea of a bunch of asian restaurants nestled in the middle of a huge Latino community always gets me. I like to think latinos like our food just as much as we love their food. Either way, Pho 14 supposedly has some pretty good pho, as you can tell in the above photo. In fact, it's been consistently one of the best asian restaurants in DC for the past few years. Seeing the sign gave me hope for what lay ahead.
We sat down and both ordered the large Pho Dac Biet 14, which includes a sampling of all the different cuts of beef, including the stuff I like most, tripe, tendon, and meatballs. The food took a surprisingly long time to get to our table, considering most pho restaurants have everything premade and just combine them all into a bowl and serve. They were also a little stingy on the bean sprouts, as I'm used to having enough to put into my soup and eat raw as a crunchy little amuse bouche while waiting for the main event to arrive. Still, everything looked quite fresh, and the broth felt quite hot, and I was ready to see for myself how the "best asian restaurant" in DC fared compared to what I've had in the past.
The verdict? It went quite well. I'm sure the hunger from having to wait so long for our food helped, but this was some of the best pho I've ever had. The flavors were light but true to form, and no one component was too overpowering. The meats were also really juicy, tender, and most of all, fresh. The only beef (haha) I had with the dish was that it tasted just a little too...white. Like something had been modified to accommodate Western taste buds. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but it definitely didn't taste as authentic as some of the bowls of pho I've had before. I'm sure that's not a bad thing for everyone, but I happen to really like the taste of "authentic" pho. It's probably the MSG.
For providing me and my dad a solid Vietnamese-American meal, but still one that tasted damn good, Pho 14 earns 3.5 Cherries.