Pho King Good in Seaside
I was excited when I read at chowhound that the peninsula finally got a real Vietnamese restaurant. I have had several meals at the Orient Café, but I found the only meal I really liked there was the sour shrimp soup. Another Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant was briefly open on Broadway around 1996, but it didn't last long enough for most people to try it.
The first time I went to Pho King, I had to try the pho. I chose number one with rare beef, tendon, tripe, brisket, and meatballs. A previous poster had been somewhat disappointed with the beef stock, but on the day of my visit it was excellent. The soup had a robust beef flavor that made the whole dish a success. It came with the usual garnishes--basil, bean sprouts, and sliced jalapeños. The noodles were plentiful and perfectly cooked. The various types of beef offered a range of textures. The rare beef was a bit chewy, the tendon gelatinous, the tripe crunchy, the brisket oh so tender, and the meatballs a bit rubbery. If I had any complaint, and I have to search for one, it was that they brought me the large size bowl without asking which size I wanted. But then, I probably looked like a large sized person and it was the perfect size for my lunch.
On another visit, I tried two of their appetizers. The spring rolls, with noodles, lettuce, and thinly sliced pork on the inside and whole shrimp visible just under the wrapper, were fine but not special. The rolls were served with standard peanut sauce.
But the highlight of this visit was the shrimp and pork crepe. The eggy crêpe batter was cooked until crispy and then folded over bean sprouts, pork, and shrimp. The dish was served with red lettuce leaves, mint leaves, basil, and fresh cilantro. The helpful server explained that the best way to eat the crêpe was to cut it up and place the pieces along with one's choice of mint, basil, and/or cilantro in a large piece of lettuce leaf, dip the combination into the standard Vietnamese dipping sauce, and pop it into the mouth. I found this a tasty and unusual dish.
Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Pho King. Sorry about the bad joke in the subject line, but I couldn't resist.
Thanks for the update on PK, ed. I like your reports. The crepe or "banh xeo" that you described sounds yummy. It's not easy to pull off since it's delicate, quickly perishable, and needs to be served right out of the hot skillet. Ingredients also need to be quite fresh. I hate it when they overstuff w/ bean sprouts and skimp on the meat, but doesn't sound like it was the case here. You may already know this, but while it's often likened to a crepe, it usually doesn't have any egg. The batter's made of rice flour, and turmeric gives it the distinctive yellow hue. A good one will be a little fluffy instead of leaden though. I don't make this at home, so it's nice to order out.
I linked PK's website menu below. How many pho shops can boast having a website?! The popular dishes are in red font, which I'm assuming reads that way on their on-site menu. And given that there's only 75 cents difference btwn. the small and large pho, why bother ordering the small.
1. Were they doing brisk business the times you've been?
2. I doubt I'd want to order anything from the "wok specials" menu while there (unless for take-out), but did you happen to spot anyone ordering those dishes? I actually love Viet chicken curry and some of the Chinese-style saucy stir-fries. Just wondering about quality of that part of the menu.
3. Anyone know what "sweet roti" dessert is? Something Malay/Sing? Thanks for any info.
re: Carb Lover
Thanks for the info about the crepe. I wouldn't term it fluffy and it did have a fair amount of bean sprouts. It is a dish that I wasn't familiar with. I found it tasty, but had nothing to compare it to. On the other hand, I have eaten pho fairly often, and I was very impressed with the version at Pho King.I ate there both times before noon. They seemed to be doing a fair amount of business. I don't remember noticing too many other dishes that were served, but I do remember someone else getting pho and someone a bun.