Restaurant Peek: Pho 99
By Joie Ha | Asian Avenue Magazine
When you walk into Pho 99, you are greeted by the smell of fragrant beef soup full of herbs and spices. Pho, a traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup, is tasty all year long but especially comforting during cold days. After a brisk and chilly walk to the restaurant, I was pleased to dig into my steaming bowl of Pho.
Owner Ivy Ha explains how the pho broth must be simmered with beef bones, meat, herbs, and spices overnight in order to create the best soup. Brewing for several hours gives the soup real flavor. She relies on this tried and true method of creating a rich and detailed taste, instead of using artificial flavors.
When you order a bowl of pho, the hearty portions include tantalizing soup, soft rice noodles, your choice of meats, and green and white onions. A plate of fresh basil, beansprouts, and limes comes on the side that you can use to garnish your soup to your own taste. You can also use Sriracha hot sauce and hoisin as dipping sauces for the meat or to spice up your pho. Part of the beauty is the customization. You can add all types of vegetables to your bowl and change up the soup with all the sauces present on the table.
Although pho is the specialty of this restaurant, they sell a variety of other items, too. The Combination Grilled Rice Bowl and Combination Grilled Vermicelli Bowl are also very popular, topped with Vietnamese grilled shrimp, pork, or beef. The bowls also come with a few crunchy eggrolls and a fried egg.
Bun Bo Hue, the five spice beef noodle soup that is native to Central Vietnam is a seasonal special right now, and comes highly recommended. This spicy treat is incredibly flavorful with a delectable balance of spicy, salty, sweet, and sour. It definitely packs a punch! The bowl has a base of thick noodles and is topped with fresh onions. It also includes beef shank, pig’s knuckle so it’s not for the un-initiated. Don’t worry, you can order it without those toppings too! A plate of fresh vegetables that includes lime wedges, mint, and sliced banana blossoms come on the side that you can add to your Bun Bo Hue, too. If you’re looking for an authentic and savory spicy dish, this is the one for you!
Appetizers also abound at Pho 99. They offer a large variety of starters from edamame to fried dumplings. My personal favorite is the summer rolls, or goi cuon in Vietnamese. These include shrimp, grilled beef, soft vermicelli noodles, and a variety of vegetables all wrapped in rice paper.
Make sure to end your meal with a sweet boba smoothie. There are many flavors to choose from, and the drink is topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The avocado boba is made fresh and makes for a surprisingly refreshing drink!
When asked why Ivy chose the number 99, she explained, “the number 9 in Chinese means longevity and I hope it will bring us and our customers good luck!”
Try their new $9.95 lunch special, which includes a medium Pho, one spring roll, and a soft drink!
Sample Menu for Two
Vietnamese Summer Rolls $3.95
Small Meatball Pho $7.45
Bun Bo Bue $10.95
Avocado Boba $4