Pot Au Pho

Update: 9/26/12
If you've read this post before, you may have gotten the impression I liked it. I've actually been back within a month of my first visit.  That may be a new record for me.  

Rice plate with beef ribs
I got the rice plate with beef ribs.  I was forewarned that this dish does take a little time to make.  I understood why when it came to the table.  The short ribs are cooked and then lightly grilled.  There's a wonderful char to it.  At first, I thought there was way too much rice to ribs ratio but the ribs are so flavorful it's plenty to finish off the rice.  I also suggest you get down and dirty with it.  There little pieces of bones still in the ribs so fingers may need to get involved to get all the meat.  The vegetables were also a good compliment to the ribs.  Next time I order this, I will ask for a sunny side up egg over my rice.  It just makes it that much more decadent.

Bun Bo Hue (Beef Noodle Soup)
My friend, Kat, got the beef noodle soup.  I actually don't even know if that's what's it's called on the menu but hey that's what I call it at home.  I was surprise how authentic it looked and smell.  It was perhaps too authentic even.  I just can't imagine some people eating the blood sausage and pig feet.  My friend loves my mom's beef noodle soup and she thought it was good.  Since I didn't taste it, I had Kat write a blurb.
  • Kat says: The broth was well rounded and full of flavor.  The meatballs were delicious and the sliced beef was very tender.  The noodles were just right and all in all, it was a very good dish.
If you want some authentic Vietnamese style iced coffee, Pot Au Pho has it.  It is a little pricey at close to $4 a pop.  You can get it already made in the kitchen or the waitress can bring it out to you.  I like the second option.  Something about watching the coffee drip from the old fashioned single brewer onto the sweetened condensed milk that reminds me of what I make at home.  Once you're ready, you take the brewer off, stir thoroughly and pour over the ready cup of ice and enjoy.   

Original Post: 9/8/12
I admit I have extremely high expectations for Vietnamese food.  It has a lot to do with growing up with my mom being such a great cook.  However, there are a few things my mom does not make often because it's usually labor intensive.  For me that's  where Vietnamese restaurants would come in.  Pot Au Pho opened in Mobile over the summer.  It's located on Azalea Road, next door to the Vietnamese store My Hoa.  Since opening, several acquaintances have tried it and gave rave reviews.  I decided to try it out with my brother and two friends.

Bun Thit Nuong, Cha Gio
Instead of pho, I opted for one of the vermicelli dishes.  My mom just doesn't make grilled pork like restaurants do.  I ordered B4 which is noodles, grilled pork and a egg roll.  The base is actually a mixture of greens, then vermicelli (thin, round rice noodles) topped with grilled pork, a cut up egg roll, some cucumbers, peanuts and pickled carrots/daikon.  A little bowl of sweet and sour fish sauce is served on the side.  I found the noodles to be a little dry, which is common, so I drenched it with the sauce.  Since the sauce is not the pure fish sauce, you can do that.  I would recommend tasting as you go though because the sauce can still pack a punch.  The grilled pork was lightly marinated and very tender.  The egg roll was surprisingly good considering there was some cabbage in the filling.  I like the crunchy peanuts too.  I love eating the grilled pork and pickled carrots/daikon together.  It's sweet and sour with a slightly smoky flavor.  I would order this again.

Com Thit Nuong, Bi, Hoc ga op la
My brother ordered a rice plate.  I don't quite remember the number but it's rice with a sunny side up egg, grilled pork, Vietnamese sausage pie and shredded pork.  The order comes with a bowl of soup on the side. Certain components of this dish were better than others.  I especially like the egg, rice, shredded and grilled pork.  My brother doused the rice and egg with a little fish sauce to add a little seasoning and it turned out great.  My brother did not like the sausage pie thing.  He said it tasted weird.  There was a lot of glass noodles in it.  I think the best part is the little side of soup.  You can tell a lot of ingredients and time went into the soup.  This type of soup typically takes hours to make.  You can taste the sweetness from the chicken, the star anise and fresh herbs on top.  After eating what could be a greasy dish, the soup cleanse your palate and leaves it refreshed. 

What's a trip to a place called Pot Au Pho without a bowl of Pho?  My friend, Jennifer, ordered Chicken Pho.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try it out because it's one of those dishes you can't really snag a taste of.  I did get Jennifer to write me a quick little blurb about it though.
  • Jennifer says:  "Since it was my first time trying pho, I don't have anything to compare it to really but I thought it was simply delicious!  You were right about have to tweak the dish to fit your taste when they first bring it out but I would rather that than be disappointed. I cannot wait to go back and try more pho dishes!"  
It's normal to tweak pho. In fact, it's expected.  In my house, we usually have hoisin sauce, siracha, fish sauce, lime and green onions/cilantro mix on the table.  You mix as much or as little of any of the condiments in your bowl of pho to fit your taste buds.

One of the things my friends raved about was the smoothie/bubble tea.  I love that there are exotic fruit flavors as well as traditional flavors.  My friend's little girl, Ryan, couldn't get enough of the strawberry.  My brother and I had the jackfruit and durian.  Both were delicious.  It could be considered a little high at $3.75 but I have to say it's worth it.  FYI tapioca pearls or jelly is extra.

Pot Au Pho does not have an extensive menu like other Vietnamese restaurants in the area but that's not a bad thing.  Instead of spreading the quality around to 50 items, they choose to concentrate on about 10 vermicelli dishes, 10 rice dishes and 10 pho varieties.  I didn't spot anything on the menu over $10 so it's very affordable. The servers were very nice.  They were happy to answer questions and came back often to check if we liked our food and drinks.  I also liked the nice airy feel of the restaurant.  It has a little Parisian feel to it with the archways, tiled floors and yellow walls.  All in all, Pot Au Pho is a nice addition to the Mobile restaurant scene. Now let's hope the quality stays up to par as business comes along.
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