Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pho Van (Strip District)

Ever since I was in high school, I have been a fan of Vietnamese pho.

Which, by the way, is actually pronounced "fuh," but since everyone calls it "foe" people will just look at you funny if you say it right.  Kinda like bruschetta ("brusketta") or edamame ("e-DA-ma-meh").  Anyway, pho is such a simple and cheap yet fulfilling dish - rice noodles in a steamy light broth, topped with beef, green onions, cilantro, onions, and raw bean sprouts on the side.  I usually like my pho with raw, thin sliced beef, which I then "cook," along with the bean sprouts, by seeping them in the broth for a minute or two.  I like each bite served with a squish of Sriracha sauce.  Yum.

Pho is one of those things I always get when I'm in Toronto.  During my DC days I never managed to find a pho place that I found satisfying, so I didn't expect much in Pittsburgh.  But then I keep hearing about several good Vietnamese restaurants in town so I figured I'd give one of them a try.  I was craving pho anyway.

Pho Van is at the eastern end of the Strip District on Penn Avenue.  I was making a quick stop at the Strip for some groceries and thought I'd stop by Pho Van for an early dinner.

My first pho in Pittsburgh!

I didn't need much time to look through the menu.  Just like I always get curry at a Thai restaurant, I always get pho with rare beef at a Vietnamese restaurants.  I promptly ordered the Pho Tai:

Pho Tai at Pho Van
Pho Tai (Pho with slices of rare eye of round, $7)

The good:  It was tasty, and satisfied my craving.  The portion was plenty to fill me up.

The less good:  It was more expensive ($7) than what I'm used to in Toronto.  I know, I know, a $7 dinner is hardly something one should complain about, but...it's pho.  Not foie gras.  Also, the beef-to-noodle ratio definitely tipped a bit too heavily towards the noodles.

Still, it hit the spot.  And not having had pho at any other restaurant in Pittsburgh, it's hard to say if Pho Van's prices or portions are unreasonable compared to the "Pittsburgh standard."  For one of my pho cravings though, it will do in a pinch.  But I'm definitely curious to check out some of the other Vietnamese restaurants in town as well.

Restaurant info:
Pho Van
2120 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
On the web: http://www.phovanpgh.com/index.php

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Pho Van on Urbanspoon