For those who haven’t clicked on the links, Pho Deluxe is a local chain that also has locations in Fairfax and Tysons Corner.
JSnake, on 02 Jul 2015 – 4:45 PM, said: Any good?
I felt badly that I hadn’t been when you asked about it, so I made it a point to go to the Fairfax location of Pho Deluxe, and get a Large #38 – Phở Tái, Chín Gân ($9.95) , and I was terribly disappointed by my soup.
Seasoned pho-goers know that pho houses serve the best pho, and Vietnamese restaurants usually do a relatively poor job at it – it’s a specialty item, that is best done alone, or not at all. However, Pho Deluxe falls right at the midway point of being a pho house and a Vietnamese restaurant – it looks like a pho house, it acts like a pho house, but the menu is much more extensive, with about ten difference sections other than pho.
What this meant is that my pho was placed in front of me, and I immediately performed my pre-first-bite ritual: I broke the basil, put in the sprouts, and then flip-flopped the noodles and the sprouts, so the sprouts would cook on the bottom of the bowl, and the noodles would rest on top and not overcook. Then, without adding any seasoning, I took my spoon, and took a spoonful of broth – this is the moment de la vérité as they might have said during the French colonization. Well, the broth tasted mostly of hot, sodium-ridden liquid, without much discernible beef fat, and without much other flavoring. One spoonful is all I needed to know that this was a below-average bowl of pho.
If you ever seen me in a pho house, you can tell what I think by what I add: If I add nothing, then it’s great pho; if I add a bit of Sriracha and plum sauce – just a bit, because I think these two items are garbage food, and the twenty-something chefs who think its “cool” to use Sriracha in dishes are generally garbage chefs, then it’s decent pho; if I squirt out the Sriracha and plum sauce so that it makes the type of noise that has the entire restaurant turning around, you know it’s pretty much like this was – dilute, and most often made from starter mix. Obviously I didn’t see it being cooked, so I can’t say for sure how it’s made, but I will say they did a splendid job of imitating how bad pho should taste. Furthermore, we’re as close as we can come to cracking the unthinkable ten-dollar barrier – does anyone else remember the halcyon days of Pho 75 when a bowl was $4.95 and you left a dollar bill for a tip? Well, those days are gone, I’m afraid.
To add insult to injury – and this is no fault of the restaurant’s – I got a can of Diet Coke ($1.35) on the way out, and damned if this wasn’t a bad batch: it tasted like club soda, without even the superficial pleasures of artificial sweeteners so that I can pretend I’m drinking sugar. I thought my palate might have been tainted, but, no, this was a bad can of soda, as thirty minutes later, it still tasted pretty much like club soda (it *smelled* like Diet Coke, for whatever that was worth).
The Fairfax Pho Deluxe is in the front part of the shopping center that contains a whole host of stores that nobody every discusses – it’s the shopping center near Fairfax Circle with Artie’s, Bowl-o-Rama, and Lotte. As for the upcoming Courthouse location, I’ll let others fill me in on how that one’s doing; I’ve had enough for the time being. One interesting thing about their menu is that they explicitly state that their pho is available without cilantro for those who are sensitive to its flavor – I don’t remember ever seeing that before.