Pho Nguyen Vietnamese–Valpariso, Florida.
Let me tell you…I am a phonatic pho real. A pho connoisseur if you will. If pho was a person, I would marry it and bare it’s rich deep offspring. There, I said it. –I’m not weird, ok?
With that being said, any time I’m in a town that has a Vietnamese place, I’m down to try it. There aren’t too many Vietnamese places near my town so this does the trick when I get a little hankering for some good pho.
Be forewarned, the outside (and inside) of this place is not super flattering. It’s in a small plaza adjacent a Goodwill and a martial arts studio. I went with my honey. We ordered bubble tea to drink and spring rolls as an appetizer.
I ordered mango bubble tea and he ordered strawberry bubble tea. I think mine was the better of the two. I am not too keen on tapioca beads, but in this it was delicious. I did try the strawberry tea and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the mango.
Mine as creamy and reminded me of a cuban “batido de mango” with a little extra treat. I enjoyed the richness and balance of the flavor I chose. The strawberry tasted similar to a strawberry “sticky” candy that you would buy at the front register of a gas station. Not the top choice, but available if you ever had a sweet tooth.
Next were the spring rolls. Again, not the best I’ve had, but also got the job done. I tend to like a little bit more acidity to my peanut sauce to balance the blandness of the shrimp and noodle in the spring roll. I was neither disappointed nor delighted. I will on a positive note say that the spring rolls were a nice size for a twosome such as we, and we ate both in their entirety.
Now for the main course–pho. I ordered the “P1” which has all beef (meatballs, brisket, tendon, tripe and rare skirt steak) with no tripe and extra brisket. There are two sizes, small and large. My usual is the small, which is actually huge. I ALWAYS taste the broth when I get the bowl to see how and what I need to flavor it.
It’s the most important part of eating this dish. I don’t want to walk in hastily and say, hey here’s some sriracha and plum sauce. It’s really a feel your way through type situation. Almost like a blind date. You don’t know if you need that “emergency call” until your date opens his/her mouth.
A similar situation with pho. I want to taste and see if it’s worth continuing the meal without support. I usually always amp up the spice too. I like the jalapeño, Thai basil, lots of bean sprouts (for the crunchy kick), plum sauce and sriracha (or thai chili sauce, preferably thai chili sauce).
Pho Nguyen’s broth is rich. To be honest I was a little skeptical of the meat, but after a little research on “beef rainbows,” quickly found that it was perfectly fine. In any event, I eat the entire bowl every time.
For the area and the price of the pho, I feel like this place is awesome. The service is acceptable and fairly quick. They are always receptive to my entry and never try to rush me out (even close to closing time). I would definitely recommend this place for locals or persons passing through looking for a hardy bowl of Vietnamese greatness.