Yes, Virginia: there is...Vietnamese in Amherst?
For years people in Amherst and Northampton have been waiting, hoping, and wishing for a Vietnamese restaurant north of Springfield/Hartford. Now it seems we've gotten our wish: Rumor has it that a little place called "Pho" has opened on Boltwood Walk, near Thai Corner. Not sure what, besides the eponymous noodle soup, it serves.
Has anyone been?
It is a order at the counter type place from the 25 items on the menu, includes Vietnamese coffee and soda. Noodle soups, mostly beef (rare beef, well done beef, tripe, meatball), a couple of different noodle dishes, fried rice, spring rolls, and summer (fresh) rolls. I had chicken noodle soup and the fresh rolls. Fresh rolls were cold, had vermicelli like noodles, tofu and shrimp, served with a sweet peanut dipping sauce. Soup came with a very small piece of lime, basil leaves, sliced jalapenos and bean sprouts. The spup had a fine tasting broth, lots of noodles and buttery tasting white meat chicken, cilantro, onion and scallion. On the table were siracha and a sweet brown sauce. Pretty good and casual- a good quick lunch spot in Amherst.
I went on Sunday and can say that this place serves a decent bowl of Pho. They have chicken and seafood on the menu along with simple Pho Tai or the works- tripe, tendon, brisket, etc.
We were very disappointed with the appetizers though. The spring rolls were not Vietnamese (usually filled with ground pork, vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms etc), but were very average fried rolls filled with cabbage and veggies served with duck sauce and not fish sauce.
The fresh spring rolls were a bit better but still not very good. And the iced coffees didn't have enough condensed milk in them.
I can recommend it for a decent bowl of pho, but there's really nothing else there worth going for. I will probably just keep making the drive to Springfield's Pho Saigon...