A bowl of chicken pho steams beside a plate of all the fixings at Pho 21.

A bowl of chicken pho steams beside a plate of all the fixings at Pho 21.

Photo By David Robert

Pho 21

10580 N. McCarran Blvd.
Reno, NV 89503
Ste. 108

(775) 424-2121

It seems like pho joints are popping up out of the woodwork lately, but I can see why—it’s delicious and healthful food. In a world that’s literally saturated with fatty, greasy fried cuisine, the light Vietnamese fare is a pleasant alternative.

Although Pho 21 does have a few fried vittles on the menu, the menu is mainly comprised of a variety of grilled meats, fresh aromatic vegetables, light broths, rice and noodles. If, like me, you had to buy new pants this winter because you couldn’t fit into your old ones, you might be interested in checking out the wonders of pho.

Located in a strip mall on the corner of McCarran and West Seventh, Pho 21 is nestled in the northeast corner, between The Hacienda and Flowing Tide Pub.

The dining room at Pho 21 is what I would call medium-sized—it packs in about 80 plus. The walls are painted natural earth tones—green and brown—creating a serene ambiance for eating. The tables and chairs are new burgundy wood and are fairly comfortable. As far as authenticity goes, it’s not up there with some of the other pho spots in town with Ho Chi Minh City-style Vietnamese being yelled out back, unmarked vans unloading supplies through the back door and the requisite nightmares of contracting a food-borne illness.

Pho 21 is more the type of place to get a clean, safe, decent meal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My mom and I stopped in for dinner on a Tuesday night. The place wasn’t very busy, the service was good, and the food came quickly.

I ordered a small chicken noodle soup for $5.50 and spring rolls for $3.95.

Mom selected number 21: flame-broiled shrimp, barbecue pork and egg rolls over vermicelli noodles. I think this is the best thing on the menu and it is probably why the place is named “21.”

Mom also ordered a salty lemonade for $2.

The spring rolls arrived first. They were pretty tasty, light and sweet with a nice peanut dipping sauce. Right after we finished the spring rolls, the entrées came out. My small chicken noodle pho was, in fact, really big, and it came with a small plate of traditional garnish—Thai basil, bean sprouts, sliced fresh jalapeño peppers and a fat lime wedge. It tasted great, nice and fresh. The broth was light but just hearty enough to satisfy my hunger.

Mom enjoyed her number 21, too. She wolfed it down. I was amazed because usually she is a bit of a dainty eater. Not this time! She even had to order another salty lemonade to wash it all down.

Pho 21 won’t make you feel like you’re in Southeast Asia, but it is light, fresh, and I felt good after I finished eating, not all fat and bloated like I just ate a greasy burger. For the health-conscious diner looking for a little something out of the norm, Pho 21 is pho real.