The Pho Bar in Berkeley?
- Melanie Wong Oct 2, 2011 12:00 PM
In another thread RL asked whether Sketch Ice Cream was reopening. This prompted me to look at Sketch's FB page which mentions it's supplying the frozen yogurt at The Pho Bar. Has anyone tried the soft-serve frozen yogurt or anything else at The Pho Bar?
Here's a post on the banh mi,
The Pho Bar
1828 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
I went in July and ordered the Combo which is a small House Pho (rare sirloin & brisket) + 1/2 Banh Mi (your choice of filling) for $10. You order at the counter and seat yourself.
A few minutes after I sat down the manager came by to tell me they had not gotten their bread order yet (about 1/4 to noon) so they could sub a different item like Summer Rolls or upgrade me to a large pho instead of the 1/2 banh mi. Either way she gave me a coupon for a free banh mi on next visit, which I thought was a nice touch. I went with some summer rolls.
The pho was mixed. The beef was tender and flavorful and the noodles nicely al dente and not clumped in the bottom of the bowl like you find at many places. The broth I didn't like at all. It was very sweet and not much else. Not beefy and not much other spicing. They provide a good plate of condiments including ngo gai (sawtooth herb). Small is pretty small in a ~5" bowl.
The summer rolls have shrimp and pork and tasted good. They were, however, smallish and poorly made with a very loose roll. It was almost impossible to get any of the really thick peanut sauce on them by dipping because they were bending and flexing. I used my chopsticks to apply some of the sauce. I liked them overall better than the pho.
Have not been back yet to try the banh mi.
Well drewski I tried. Stopping on the way home I ordered a Pho Tai #91 to go. However, I had not read the "small print" on the takeout page that takeout is only by on line order and you get a sustainable "Stainless Steel Lunch Box Sets that are reusable, lightweight, and include a thermos for transporting our Pho broth. How it works? We are asking that you ‘rent’ our tiffin containers. And if you bring the container back within the first five days, it’s free!"
Take-out at the Pho Bar is certainly a work in progress and probably too idealistic, however, I must applaud their commitment to running an eco-friendly shop and hope that eventually this can be a model for all quick-serve restaurants. Even the compostable takeout boxes and faux plastic-ware used at many quick-service eateries in berkeley end up in landfills with regular garbage and some of it (like the greenware cups) can't break down the way they should in a real compost facility...and then there's the carbon footprint of the facility that manufactures these products and the environmental costs of shipping. The Pho Bar uses cloth napkins (both for dining and hand drying in the restrooms), real cutlery and plates, reusable plastic baskets for the bahn mi and glassware for desserts and drinks. It is certainly inconvenient to have to order online and return the containers, but hopefully enough people will find that the long term environmental benefits are worth the extra effort.
As for the food, I enjoy the Bahn Mi, which can purchased to go at the register (I believe it's only the Bun and Pho that requires the tiffins and thermoses), but I agree that the pho lacks flavor.