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Pho Sapa (Tempe): I would have liked to review it

I noticed the "Grand Opening" sign out in front of Pho Sapa on Kyrene at Elliot and decided to drop in Friday night to pick up a couple of entrees for dinner. Business was brisk; the restaurant was probably 40% full when I walked in and continued to get more crowded, reaching about 80% full in about half an hour. I was happy because I live in the area and am always excited about new dinner options and I want this place to do well.

I ordered a couple of standard entrees and some rice-paper rolls along with a beer to sip as I waited for my food. The place was clean and well lit, with an interesting ceiling and a gurgling water feature. The food coming out of the kitchen smelled great and the customers seemed happy. At this point, I had no reason to believe that this wouldn't be a great find and a nice Friday night dinner.

As I waited, I began to notice that patrons that had been getting attentive service were suddenly looking around for their waiters. Drinks were going unfilled. I was noticing people who had been there before me who still had not received any food. The hostess was becoming flustered and kept apologizing to me about the wait. At this point, it had only been about 15 minutes so I wasn't irritated in the slightest.

Then the wheels came off. The couple eating next to me were joined by another couple who arrived late. This couple wanted pho but they were told, "We are out of pho". Out of pho at Pho Sapa on Friday night at 7:30 PM? OK, its their first Friday in business so I wasn't too surprised. This couple had a small child and when they didn't receive any food or see the waiter again for 30 minutes they took off. I had been in the place 45 minutes now and had teamed up with the other "to go" orders to figure out what was going on. Most of the staff was huddled in the back looking flustered and puzzled. The young hostess was visibly stressed and very apologetic but she pretty much told us it was going to be another half hour to an hour until the food was done. The other "to go" groups and I pulled the plug and voided our already processed credit card orders.

I walked out of the restaurant after more than hour and no food. One of the other guys I left with said he'd be back next week to give them another chance. I think the place needs a month.

I'd love to hear about any good experiences.

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  1. Oh no....that's terrible. Poor staff. :(

    Well, I'll wait too, but am excited about a new pho place in that part of town!!

    1. I drive home by this every night and have been interested to see how it is. I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience. I hope they get it together. It would be great to have a good new pho spot nearby!

      1. Wow, that's too bad-- I've really been looking forward to eating there. The broth for Pho takes a bit longer to make, but anticipating a Friday crowd should have put them on notice for making more. Yes, I think I'll wait awhile for them to get their staff under control and then go check it out. Thanks for the review!

        1. Dont waste your time !
          I went and I can say that without hesitation worst in the valley. It was so bad i almost felt bad for the owner. The soup was not hot at all and lacked any flavor. The service was non-existent and just an overall poor poor experience.
          I am sticking with Dragonfly in Mesa and almost feel bad for trying something else.

          1. I just went here for lunch, as I work very closeby and was stoked to see a new pho place open up. Normally I'll haul out to Dragonfly for lunch if I want pho, but this is a sub 5-minute drive and gas is expensive and lunch can't be an hour and a half all the time.

            Anyway, I experienced none of the aforementioned service problems (I was there at noon or so) - someone came up and got me water right away, and I received my pho dac biet a few minutes after I ordered it. Upon initial tasting I found the broth to be very, very bland. I loaded it up with hoison sauce and a bit of sriracha and basil and the sawtooth-shaped cilantro tasting stuff from the condiments plate (what are those anyway?), but it only helped marginally. I did like the quality of the various beef parts, especially the brisket, which is normally way too fatty for me at other pho establishments - this was actually pretty lean. The tendon was also nice and creamy. The noodles were too soft and slippery and actually hard to eat with the chopsticks since the broth was disintegrating them. I also had a problem with the soup spoon, which was really small and made of metal instead of the normal big plasticky spoon you get. It was near-impossible to put a decent amount of broth & noodles & beef in it for a good mouthful. I wasn't really impressed with the pho, though as I've said to someone before, mediocre pho is still better than most food in my book. My other gripe was it's a bit pricey compared to other pho places. Granted, it was a huge bowl for $9, but it was still $9.

            Given the quality of the meat and the food I eyeballed (and smelled from a distance) on other peoples' plates, it looks like they use fresh ingredients and there's still some hope. Since it's so close to my office I'll probably go back and try some of their other dishes.

            1. I had the same experience! I work less than 5 minutes away and went there for lunch soon after it opened. The place was less than half full, so we were seated right away. We ordered water and spring rolls (the spring rolls came right out... the water took at least 10 minutes) then our main dishes. After sitting there for over half an hour, our server came up to us (for the first time since we had ordered, our water glasses didn't even have any ice left in them) and said that she forgot to put our order in so it would be another 20 minutes or so. After 25 minutes, we were already going to be late getting back to work, so we told the server to forget it, we weren't paying for our spring roll, and we drove through Sonic on the way back. I hate to say it, but first impressions are key for me. They blew it, so we're never going back.

              1. They weren't prepared!! ouch!

                Thats the key reason that I don't pay for take out orders until I'm picking it up.

                1 Reply
                1. re: AZBconcierge

                  For Pho in the Tempe Mesa area got to Pho Mesa at Dobson and Broadway. The owner made PHO in Nam his whole life and then moved here about 3 years ago. I have eaten Pho in Little Saigon and nothing they have to offer can touch what they do in Mesa.

                2. Unlike what I heard so far... i would like to say that i totally had a different experience. the food was great! this was my 1st experience with Vietnamese food and to be given the chance to set the degree of "heat" was definitely a plus in my book. I know the time of day and week differs from everyone else but my experience with the origin of this food was definitely "two thumbs up." i think that everyone has their days, especially barely starting a new business. Give them another chance. Newly starting businesses should always be given a chance to "work out all the kinks." Nobody is perfect. Are you?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodlovr

                    I've been back here for lunch a few times since it's very close to my work and I get wicked pho cravings pretty often. I still complain about the prices ($7.50 is their lunch special price for a regular bowl of pho), but the food has been consistently better and freshly prepared. The pho is decent (and better than it was when I initially reviewed the place), though still a bit on the bland side for my tastes... and yes, they thankfully have the normal plastic spoons now. Pho is comfort food for me and I'll take mediocre pho over a lot of other things if I'm in the mood. I tried some beef and noodle dish (off the lunch menu) a few months ago and it was tasty.

                    Service is acceptable too. It's not lightning speedy and we've sat around staring at each other while waiting for them to pick up our checks a few times, but it's not awful. At lunch we normally get our food reasonably fast, though I still haven't been there for dinner.