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Pho n' Rice - Somerville

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  • Aphex Jan 25, 2009 07:38 AM
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Driving by Petsi Pies today I noticed right next door in the old Zoe's space there is a sign up for a new Pho place, I think it said Pho n' Rice vietnamese and thai restaurant. Zoe's has moved across the street apparently. Is Pho n' Rice open yet? Anyone know anything else about it? It would be great to have a good Pho place in the neighborhood :-)

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  1. Checked it out tonight on my way to the (lovely, lovely) new Zoe's. Pho'n'Rice not open yet - still remodeling a fair bit - but there are menus waiting outside. Looks to be 7 days/week, $2 delivery charge. I don't know much about Pho beyond pronunciation (thanks to Seattle's "What the Pho"), but I recognized some standards on the menu.

    For those who know, the menu is divided into: apps, salads, soups, fried rice and:
    Bun (vermicelli), Pho, Banh Hoi (steamed vermicelli patties), stir fried noodle.
    Then some seafoods, some well known dishes of the chicken lemongrass variety,
    red/green/yellow/mango/avocado curries, and some lunch combos.

    they've parked http://phonrice.com but nothing's up yet.

    7 Replies
    1. re: enhF94

      Thanks for the update. I picked up a menu myself during this weekends Petsi Pie run, it looks good. I'm excited that they offer shrimp paste wrapped over sugar cane as one of the Bun toppings. I've missed that ever since Pho #1 in Woburn took it off their menu. There was also a Grand Opening sign outside Pho n' Rice, so maybe Saturday afternoon was the opening?

      1. re: Aphex

        went by sun late morning/early afternoon and they were closed.

        1. re: autopi

          I talked with someone there yesterday who said they are hoping to open on Thursday. He said the restaurant is ready; they are just waiting for the city to test and approve the fire alarm system.

          1. re: peng

            They said that the prior Thursday also. Danny's Diner had the same trouble with delays from the city approving stuff. I still haven't tried the new Zoe's locale, but I heard it's still BYO from my roommate.

            Also, just FYI on the little strip forming there... Danny bought the place next to his own place, but couldn't get a liquor license. The plan was to open a Mexican sit-down joint, but he scrapped it and leased the place to Zoe's. So - my guess is that the new PhoNRice is somehow linked to the Zoe's owners? Which, of course, would be awesome.

            1. re: fafatodd

              a couple of nights ago, while getting takeout, i asked the zoe's owner (i think he's the owner?) about pho n' rice. he said he doesn't have anything to do with the place and that it was owned by some thai people.

            2. re: peng

              Today, they said they won't be open on Thursday, but will be open this Saturday.

              1. re: peng

                Awesome, thanks for the follow up Peng. I stopped up there again tonight to check, too. Looks like they still had a lil work goin on.

      2. I've seen the sign too and am eagerly awaiting the opening. Would any of you fine chowhounders care to try it once it does? We could organize a dinner there for starters - how about Sat/Sun night?

        1. Hi. Just ate here for lunch and was so happy with this place that I wanted to come home and post about it. Anyways, had thai iced tea, a small pho tai, the bun with grilled pork/shrimp/egg roll, and their tom yum fried rice with crispy chicken. I think it's been mentioned here that everyone that works here seems to be Thai, but the two Vietnamese dishes we ordered were awesome.

          their pho broth was really good, rice, but not too salty, and well balanced. Usually I have to augment broth with either sugar, spice, or lime, but this broth needed nothing.

          the dipping sauce that came with the bun seemed like there wouldn't be enough of it, but it ended up being the perfect amount. The pork is very flavorful and grilled nicely with charred bits. I wouldn't order shrimp again, though. I would just get pork and the egg roll.

          The tom yum fried rice was executed well, lots of fresh kaffir lime leaf flavor, lemongrass and nam prik pao (chili paste) the fried chicken on top was crispy and juicy.

          so happy to have a place like this around the corner.

          11 Replies
          1. re: ysb

            This is great news. Thanks for the report, ysb.

            1. re: ysb

              My dining partner had to work late last night, so we didn't get there until lunchtime today. After years of saying, "Why isn't there anyplace in Somerville that serves Vietnamese food, when there are places in Arlington, Medford, Malden, Everett, and Woburn?" I am so pleased to have this new restaurant here, and glad to find that it is very good too. I had the seafood noodle soup, and found the broth very flavorful, but not too salty. The seafood items also tasted better than the usual I've found elsewhere. Tried a bit of the pork that came with bun and thought it quite tasty.

              Was disappointed that they don't have Vietnamese coffee yet, but I'm sure it will be there soon. The staff was friendly, and I was very chuffed to see that every table was full shortly after we arrived. Looks like I'm not the only person who's been waiting for pho and bun to arrive in town.

              I also am looking forward to trying their Thai food, although I am a fan of Lemon Thai on Highland Ave. and Tom Yum Koong in Medford.

              1. re: peng

                Lemon Thai is properly not going to suffer too much, since they are on the other side of Somerville Ave., but it will be interesting to see if they siphon off some of Sugar and Spice's business.

                1. re: peng

                  Is there really a Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington? Surely not...

                  1. re: jkv

                    You're thinking of Lexington or perhaps Weston. ;-b

                    1. re: jkv

                      Lady Siam. I ate a half-frozen piece of Shumai, and found the Pho Ga bland with rubbery overdone chicken. My wife and I are simply not returning. We only went there because Toraya had a line.

                      1. re: marcreichman

                        Hmm, with a name like Lady Siam, I would assume it' s Thai, not Vietnamese....

                        1. re: galleygirl

                          I believe it's both.

                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            Well, there's a recipe for excellence...;)
                            You'd have to assume the original focus was Thai, tho...

                            1. re: galleygirl

                              I think their focus should be staying in business, as that street corner is jinxed, LOL...

                        2. re: marcreichman

                          Sounds fabulous. I'd have to think, though, that Lady Siam, regardless of their menu, is no place to get Vietnamese good. Likewise with Pho n Rice.

                          Be all that as it may, I clearly will need to hit PnR, as I no longer really consider Le's a viable option (though the only option in Som/Camb/Arl). I pretty much could eat bun every day, given the chance.

                  2. Went last night with a friend and was impressed with the quality and the range of options on the menu. We didn't explore many of them, though - I had the "small" bowl of pho tai, which came with nice quality beef in a light and beautifully flavored broth; my friend had the bo kho ("vietnamese style spicy beef stew cooked with spice and ground lemongrass") and a vietnamese iced coffee. Portions were generous for the price ($5.95 and $7.95) and service was very attentive - lots of water refills and people stopping by the table to see if we were enjoying the food. And the place seems to be doing well already - it stayed about 3/4 full the whole time we were there. One surprising thing was the relative lack of stir-ins for the pho - a lot of (slightly wilted) basil, a few tiny pieces of lime, and none of the promised bean sprouts. Maybe they ran out (we were there around 7 on Sunday)? But overall a good addition to the neighborhood - pho's especially nice to have around this time of year! (Brrrr!)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rovingfoodie

                      My husband and I've been here twice so far. We tried beef pho, pad thai, chicken pho, and pork chop rice plate and liked everything. The food is solidly good and the price can't be beat! We plan to eat here more often. It's nice to have a Vietnamese restaurant in this neighborhood. BTW, we had bean sprouts with our pho... It looks like they are still straightening out the kinks. They didn't have bun noodles tonight and no spring rolls because their deep fryer wasn't working.

                      1. re: toki

                        We’ve had take-out from Pho n Rice 3 times in the short time it’s been open. Overall impression is quite positive; not a destination place, and there’s certainly no ambience, but it’s a great take-out addition to the neighborhood.

                        My first time I got duck noodle soup. The broth was almost too rich for even me – this coming from someone who calls herself Triple Crème. There was also an intact duck heart in the broth, which sent the dish into too-much-authenticity territory for my sensibilities. But I’m sure many braver Hounds would disagree.

                        Mr. Crème loved his Pho Ga (chicken pho).

                        Next time Mr. Crème had Tom Yum Noodle soup, and it’s not as flavorful as another in our neighborhood, Tamarind House. I had the Salmon with Tomatoes, which was superb, and so fresh that the leftovers made for a great lunch the next day.

                        The third time we tried Mango Fried Rice with Tofu – a keeper, and Caramelized Fish – not so much (nothing wrong with it; just a bit one-dimensional).

                        The main downside of the place so far is the staff’s unfamiliarity with the menu. Each time I have arrived and ordered, the kitchen staff have come out repeatedly with questions that should have been raised from the get-go. “Salmon or catfish?” “Is it ok to include shrimp or just chicken?” For that reason, combined with the staff’s limited English, I wouldn’t order takeout over the phone yet.

                        But these are minor quirks. I plan to frequent this place, and next I want to try Tangerine Shrimp, and Wild Boar Basil.

                        1. re: triple creme

                          Have to agree about the staff! the first time we went I just ordered in English and towards the end of the meal was speaking Thai with the older women who were hanging around the restaurant. The second time there I ordered in Thai thinking that it would help a little, but had to repeat a couple of times in English and in Thai. My thai isn't awesome though, but when I speak Thai with the Rod Dee or Dok Bua staff they seem to understand fine.

                          1. re: triple creme

                            Just a quick note about Tamarind House - not a heck of a lot of mention on the board - it tends to get overlooked for the shiny pennies in the neighborhood, but I feel like it's been there forever -

                            Have recently ordered take-out of green curry (with all green and white veggies), pad kee mow (the spicy one with the basil), papaya salad, bean thread noodle pad thai-style - everything was really deeply flavorful and spicy (when advertised), but not particularly heavy - veggies very fresh. Becoming our go-to thai place.

                            -----
                            Tamarind House
                            1790 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Been a while since I ate there, but always thought that TH was pretty decent Thai.

                      2. I'm not familiar with Somerville, but am thinking of going to Pho n' Rice for lunch tomorrow. I looked on Google Map Street View to try to get a sense of the location... what's the parking situation there? Looks like it's street parking only? How far is it from the Star Market?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: y2000k

                          No problem parking on the street I think - there will either be 2 hour parking or meters. The Star Market parking lot is 10 steps from the door. No comment on whether they tow. It's Somerville, so unlike its neighbor to the west, you will not be harassed for parking.

                          1. re: y2000k

                            plenty of street parking. and you can stop for dessert at petsi pies afterwards!

                          2. Mr. Parsnipity and I had dinner here the other night- it was a Thursday at 8:30 and we got the last table in the house! The staff seemed all a-fluster with the crowds, and the place was full of "congratulations and good luck" bouquets and cards. I hope they can maintain this level of enthusiasm. We both had bun- mine with pork and the addition of one spring roll, my DCs with shrimp, pork and spring roll. The bun was good- I would put it in the same category as Le's (nee Pho Pasteur) in the Harvard Garage. It was reasonably priced- between $7.99 and $8.99 depending on meats. I have to comment that it's not quite as good as the bun at Pho Yan in Medford Square, which is my local favorite. I'll definitely eat here again though-- just as soon as we get to try the new location of Zoe's.

                            1. I can strongly recommend the roasted duck soup which was DELICIOUS, extremely fragrant, and had TONS of duck in it -- at least two legs and a thigh, all on the bone. The meat was super tender -- I could pull it off the bone with chopsticks.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: litchick

                                I too enjoyed the rich duck soup. I munched lots of included duck, from tender legs, to one tough, ducky bit, which was probably the heart. Can't wait to hit this spot up again, and am glad to see a little neighborhood spot in the area that serves pho.

                              2. I must say, the pho at pho and rice was exquisite. Due to hectic work life and living in Cambridge, Vietnamese food was not a realistic option unless I planned ahead. I am so thrilled this place is open. Some posts were worried that Thai folks doing Vietnamese could leaad to boring interpratations of another cultures food (a frequent event in the low price end of Asian food). If the chefs/owners are not Vietnamese, they have done their homework. The broth was layered with ox/beef goodness, subtle star anise undertones, and a silky finish. The condiment plate had a lime instead of the lemon they give you in the Dorchester pho houses, I think this adds a brightness and vibrency that lemon kills. Good noodles, beef that was rare when it hit the table. Great stuff all around. The fresh rolls were rolled tightly and didn't tear awkwardly when bitten. Peanut sauce that acknowledged other flavors the right to exist (I like the fish sauce that insinuates itself at the end of the bite, not just pure sweet peanut.). The space is what it is, but its pleasant enough for a quick meal (kind of had a quingdao gardens feel, not far from a quick service joint but they but some thought and effort in the look). and a small pho is not an overwhelming bowl that could hold a cows head (my one small problem with pho is the huge servings even for a small). Go eat there, it is good

                                1. I liked the quail app just fine tonight. On the bone, mahogany color, and difficult to eat without making a mess, but tasty, plump, well seasoned, and lots of veggies (mostly onions and a few red peppers on a bed of... watercress?)

                                  Not impressed with the one-note Crispy Chicken Pad Thai, but obviously I wasn't ordering art on that one. ;)

                                  1. Tried this place out last night and overall enjoyed our meal. The gyoza was good and appeared to be house made and tasty. The 'golden bags' were good, but repetative with the gyoza.

                                    I was a bit disappointed with the bowl of Tai I got. The broth was good and noodles were good (a bit of a brick, but eventually broke up) but the steak was not rare at all and thickly sliced and tough. We will give it another shot since the bowls surrounding us had meat that looked better than what we recieved.

                                    If you were there last night...that was me staring at your dinner :)

                                    1. They have a website up - you guessed it!

                                      www.phonrice.com

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        I sent that link to a friend about a week ago. I had told her what I'd heard about the place, and how someone here warned against phoning in an order due to the language issues. Well, what's the first thing I notice on the website? The link to get to the "Munu".

                                        FWIW, the website has changed within the last week, much splashier now.

                                        Also of note, as of the last few days they've appeared on Foodler

                                        1. re: jgg13

                                          I laughed about the "Munu" myself.

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            Got take-out there from a phoned-in order - no language problems, but my order was pretty straight-forward - call it a litmus test -

                                            Chicken satay - four skewers, ok chicken, standard peanut sauce.

                                            Crispy pad thai - they used what looked like fried lo mein noodles - not sure, but they were not particularly crispy - a nice scoop of ground peanuts, though. Not my fave.

                                            Spicy beef salad - this was excellent - little to no filler - lots of very tender grilled strips of beef - tons of thinly sliced red onion, cilantro and thai chiles. One of the better versions of this that I have had.

                                            One side note - I am more than a little concerned about Zoe's - given that everyone loves a new shiny toy, the current economy and presumably the debt they incurred to buy the new place and remodel (just guessing here of course), let's not forget that this place still serves some excellent Chinese right across the street. I hope that the new place does not drive out the old one.

                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                              Good point re: Zoes. Once Chilli Garden started delivering to me I've been sending my chinese food dollars their way a lot more (mostly at the expense of Zoes), but I'll have to switch back a bit I think.

                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                I am doing my part -- for every Pho N Rice, a Zoe's trip to balance out. Anyway, as much as I like P-n-R, I *love* Zoes, esp. in its new digs!

                                            2. re: jgg13

                                              They are one of the vendors available on Foodler, if phoning in an order is a concern. Not that foodler isn't without their hilarious typos every so often, but at least Pho n Rice got my lunch order right.

                                              1. re: kobuta

                                                Yeah, I noted that they had very recently been added to Foodler ;)

                                                Most of the typos I've seen on foodler are also present on the menus, but not always. I just get a chuckle out of those things, I don't think anything bad about it. I'll probably order from PnR tonight.

                                          2. when I was in the other day all of the staff were excited about the pending arrival of zagats. I had a sparkling limeade (my fav drink) with my lunch and was pleased. a little dot ave right in my neighborhood. (or, I can imagine...)

                                            1. Ordered from them last night and was completely impressed. The summer rolls were good, the banh xeo was good, and the mi hoanh thanh was a delight to eat. That bowl kept getting richer and richer as I went along, and was almost too rich by the time I hit the bottom.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                Ordered again on a hungover saturday morning, had the bo kho and the mi hoanh thanh. To be fair, I placed the order about 5 minutes after they opened but neither of us much cared for the bo kho at all and I thought that the mi hoanh thanh was noticeably worse than thursday night (but not bad - a testament to how awesome it was on thursday)

                                              2. Tried it recently with a bunch of girls with different palates. Everyone loved the food - especially the pho which was among the best I have ever tasted. Usually I have to spice it up with sauces but this broth was just perfect.
                                                We ordered family style among 6 people with 3 apps, 2 phos and 2 main dishes and the bill came to $11 per person, including tip.
                                                I am definitely going to recommend it to all my friends and make frequent trips there!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: SmartChow

                                                  I got takeout from Pho n Rice tonight and it was my first disappointment with the place. The last time I ordered tangerine shrimp it was full of pineapples and a wide variety of crunchy veggies, and had a sparkling, fruity, tangy sauce. Tonight there were zero pineapples, the veggies were limited to onions and snow peas, and the shrimp were kind of tough.
                                                  And the mango fried rice was greasy and soggy, whereas on previous occasions it was light and sweet.
                                                  Hope this was just an off night.

                                                2. Bumping this to hear what's good for takeout that doesn't involve noodles -- how are the curries, how are the stir-fries?

                                                  It's so hot I'm picking up Vietnamese foodz and crashing my pals pad with AC and the Food Network.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                    Tom Yum fried rice with crispy chicken. This is my "always order" dish. Anything is better topped with fried chicken, but the rice is nice and aromatic, but never as spicy as you want it. Add hot sauce.

                                                    1. re: ysb

                                                      I thought it was "everything is better with bacon" but I'll take your suggestion. Thanks!

                                                    2. re: yumyum

                                                      Reporting back. All the salads travelled well -- chicken larb, spicy beef salad -- as did the wild boar with basil. Fresh rolls were fine but they could use more fresh herbs -- cmon guys it's summer! The only dish that I didn't like was the fried rice.

                                                      The gal told me business has been slow lately. And Vietnamese food is great for hot weather. I'm just sayin'

                                                      1. re: yumyum

                                                        Just had the beef salad there a few days ago --- very nice, although not as satisfying as Myers & Chang's (still trying to get to Floating Rock sometime when they are not closed!) The sparkling limeade was particularly refreshing. My DC had fresh rolls, which she said tasted good but weren't assembled well, so each bite got a very different taste instead of a plesant mixture. Overall, I like this place, and it's very close to me, although I wouldn't go out-of-my way to come here. I am nostalgic for the space though --- I've eaten in Zoe's so many times.

                                                        1. re: lipoff

                                                          I haven't tried the Tigers Tears at Myers & Chang's but love the Floating Rock version. The interesting addition in Cambodian beef salad is toasted rice, which gives a cool crunchy mouthfeel.

                                                          I forgot to mention that they really brought the heat last night on all the spicy dishes -- larb was Thai spicy without my asking.

                                                          1. re: lipoff

                                                            floating rock is closed on tuesday

                                                            1. re: galangatron

                                                              I've driven out to Floating Rock three times only to find it closed. The first time I got there too late, the second time was on a Tuesday, and the third time they were closed for a short vacation. I hope that the fourth time will be a charm!

                                                      2. Had the beef larb recently and loved it.

                                                        1. Went last night for the first time and thought it was fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation on the beef larb... man, fish sauce. Given my usual skepticism of This Cuisine + That Cuisine places, I was impressed that the kitchen appears to keep Thai and Vietnamese dishes separate: when my spicy-food–fearing dad ordered chicken with peanut sauce, the waitress told him that the kitchen had run out of the Thai peanut sauce but still had Vietnamese peanut sauce, and explained the differences.

                                                          Edit: Oh, and also the crispy chicken ruled. Almost made me wish I were hungover.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: djd

                                                            Pho and Rice makes a damn good bowl of Pho, and the duck there was succulent and lovely. What I noticed however, about this place is that it's really got a little bit of an identity crisis. It's partially Thai and partially Vietnamese. In fact I'd argue it was 70% Thai and 30% Vietnamese. Which is fine, but if you're a real fan and connoisseur of South-East Asian food, there are subtle differences between Thai and Vietnamese. They are good quality, and I plan to be a regular, specially when the weather gets cold, but I told them, they should put Banh Mi Sandwiches on the menus, some more authentically Vietnamese dishes and they'll be golden.