Pho shizzle

Pho is the meal that eats like a soup. Meat lovers now have a new choice for this Vietnamese specialty.

Pho is the meal that eats like a soup. Meat lovers now have a new choice for this Vietnamese specialty.

Photo By David Robert


6775 Sierra Center Pkwy.
Reno, NV 89511

Pho, you’ll no doubt recall, is that hearty Vietnamese soup made with rice noodles and various bits of beef. It used to be something of a novelty, but now, like Thai food and sushi before it, what was once unusual has become ubiquitous—a pho place on every block has become de rigueur.

This new pho joint has taken a bold name: Pho—as though it was the final word on the subject. This is made especially audacious and stupidly confusing considering another local Vietnamese place, one of Reno’s first, has long been affectionately referred to as “Pho.”

This new place isn’t exactly “meet the new Pho, same as the old ‘Pho.'” It’s actually a strange, suburban variation on the whole pho theme. Probably the biggest distinguishing factor of Pho is the ambience: Whereas many pho places are relaxed, casual Asian-ish soup shacks, this place is shiny and polished. The interior design is sleek and modern. The location used to house a tie-in restaurant for the flash-in-the-pan diet craze, The Zone, and the design may partially be a remnant of that.

There were large, flat-screen, possibly hi-def televisions playing one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies when we visited and a good sound system that was playing some nice South American music. In other words, nothing really connects this place authentically to Vietnam other than the menu.

A large bowl of pho soup is $7.50, and you can make it a combo with a drink and an egg roll for an extra $1.95. It’s nice that they have this simple, flat rate, and you can pick out your favorite cow parts for inclusion in the soup. I went with rare steak, well-done flank, tendon and tripe. My brother, Cameron, went with the same line-up, except he substituted fat brisket instead of the steak.

Pho includes onions, coriander and other seasonings and is usually served with chili peppers, basil, bean sprouts and lime on the side, as well as Sriracha hot sauce (the one with the rooster on the label) and an addictive sweet plum sauce.

The pho at Pho rates pretty well, though mine was a bit light on the meat, and Cameron’s could’ve used some more noodles. They might need to adjust the portioning. The large is big enough to satiate even the hungriest diner and still have some left over to take home for lunch the next day.

Service is friendly, efficient and engaging. When we were first served, the plate with the fresh sprouts and lime and stuff was missing the all-too-important basil. We asked for some, and they were quick to bring it out with a smile and an apology. Part of what makes pho (the soup) so appealing is that you sculpt each bite, deciding how much meat and noodles to include, and whether to add sprouts or basil, hot sauce or plum sauce. There’s a lot of creative freedom in a meal. It forces you to eat slowly and savor each bite. Considering that it’s such a warm, intoxicating soup to begin with, the overall effect is to really mellow you out.