FortSmithEats at: Pho Vietnam


Pho Vietnam

2214 Rogers Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.782.3227

First Impressions:

It’s gotta be said right up front. It’s in a gas station. No, not like a Taco Bell in an Exxon or a greasy “burrito” and things they insist are “potato logs” next to the baccy and fish bait at the corner Kum ‘n Go.

A REAL former gas station. The parking lot stays full during meal hours with cars stacked up by the pumps outside, so there’s no getting around that fact. Classy this joint ain’t. But it’s nothing compared to what you find inside.

Funny how people always seem to park by the pumps first, even when there are closer spots right in front. Maybe it's a shade thing.

Funny how people always seem to park by the pumps first, even when there are closer spots right in front. Maybe it's a shade thing.

Atmosphere:

Whoa, Nelly. Thar be décor in here. And by that we mean “décor” indiscriminately applied. Like, everything:

  • Fish tanks (no fish, or water, just the 1980s-era water bubble games without water stuck in there with a bunch of ocean-themed ceramics and Troll dolls)
  • Fake Hawaiian leis
  • Plastic palm trees
  • Large ceramic barnyard “floor animals” as we shall call them
  • Plastic bread and vegetables
  • A boat steering wheel and maybe an anchor
  • Random stickers and decals stuck wherever
  • Strands of silk autumn leaves
  • Twirly stars
  • “Wall fish” with bubbles coming out of their mouths that when you look closely at them you realize are happy face stickers
  • What we think is a fake mounted deer head that looks suspiciously like it might break into song. You know, like those mounted fish annoyances from a couple years ago (mercifully, it doesn’t)

Mixed in with this are the extra ingredients stacked here and there on full display and in a corner under a TV stand, a bunch of dinnerware that does not seem to be in use and looks like someone’s grandmama’s. A few booths and tables fill the space that isn’t filled with other junk store detritus. The funny thing is, the parts all make up one crazy jumble of gaudyness that works as a whole in spite of itself.

Yep, that's a fake deer head in a Vietnamese gas station restaurant. You should see the rest of the place.

Yep, that's a fake deer head in a Vietnamese gas station restaurant.

"Floor animals" under a plastic palm tree tucked into a discreet corner.

"Floor animals" under a plastic palm tree tucked into a discreet corner.

Pricing:

Pretty cheap, depending on what you order. It’s hard to spend more than $25 for two people and entirely possible to walk out of there for less than $5. The Vietnamese sandwiches are about the size of a six-inch sub and cost about $2-4 each. Most entrees are in the $6-8 range.

Rave #1

OMG, the food looks amazing. They clearly put a lot of work into the presentation, cutting the carrots into little flowers and make sure everything is photo-perfect. It’s not just us. You’ll want to take pictures of your food, too. Really. Tweet us your pics if you do.

Lemongrass Beef with vermicelli never looked so pretty. #57 on the menu we think.

Lemongrass Beef with vermicelli never looked so pretty. #57 on the menu we think.

Saigon Beef Salad

Saigon Beef Salad

Rave #2

We’re a sucker for free stuff. Pho Vietnam starts with complimentary hot tea, and ends with a complimentary dessert. Just something simple like sliced bananas with sweetened condensed milk (maybe?) and peanuts on top, or some sort of tapioca or rice pudding dish.  Not things that we’d probably order, but awfully nice to get for free.

Trust us, as free desserts go, this one's tastier than it looks, especially if your mouth's still burning from that chili sauce.

Trust us, as free desserts go, this one's tastier than it looks, especially if your mouth's still burning from that chili sauce.

Mini-rant:

There seems to be only two or three people who work there, so sometimes it takes a long time to get your food. This may be because they are busy making produce into priceless origami, but it can be irritating if you’re on a tight schedule. Plan for delays.

What to order:

It’s half the name of the restaurant and we’ve talked it up enough elsewhere, so suffice it to say the pho is great if you like pho. Honestly we get more excited about the other menu items. Everything we have tried has been fresh and delicious. The spring rolls (clear rice paper, not the fried kind) are yummalicious, especially paired with the extra plate of herbs they come with and the peanut sauce—with or without the Rooster Sauce for kick. The vermicelli dishes are good for people getting used to Vietnamese food. Lemongrass beef is a favorite. The Udon noodles with coconut milk sauce, meat and veggies are tasty and the Banh Mi sandwiches are as good as ones we’ve had in bigger towns like Austin. Vegetarians can find a whole mess of options here. Apparently the emphasis at Pho Vietnam is on French Vietnamese cuisine. We’d talk smart about that if we could, but all we know is it tastes great and we keep going back to this gas station for a fill-up.

We usually get the shrimp and pork spring rolls, but these new special Saigon spring rolls with Chinese sausage were fun.

We usually get the shrimp and pork spring rolls, but these new special Saigon spring rolls with Chinese sausage were fun.

One Little Indian

One Little Indian

Advertisements

14 responses to “FortSmithEats at: Pho Vietnam

  1. Nice pixs and write up. Do the resturants know your checking them out for write up? Hope not, for better or worst.

  2. Oh no, robert b. They don’t know we’re coming at all! What would be the fun of that?? We’re not doing this for paid advertorial, just for the love of good food.

    And so far Pho Vietnam has had good food every time! (One of the reasons we chose to start with them)

  3. Hey guys! Nice post – we linked to this page from the Pho Vietname profile on our site:

    http://www.phofever.com/restaurants.php?rid=1442

  4. Haha! Love that there’s a site just for finding pho restaurants! And that your users agree with us so much, too.

    You guys need to add Pho 21 to your list though. It’s a new(ish) place just down the road from Pho Vietnam at 21st and Rogers.

  5. I love Pho! My husbands and I go there quite often and I like to get the vermicilli with meat and eggrolls. Yum!

  6. I’ve never had Vietnamese food and my bestie and I were wanting to try it but had no idea where to start here in the Fort. This has certainly convinced me and I’m def. trying the lemongrass beef.

    Woohoo!

  7. You guys should do Rolando’s and Green Papaya next 🙂

  8. Thanks for all the comments!! We’re humbled by the feedback on our blog launch.

    Kris – please let us know how you like Pho Vietnam.
    Elabeth – both of those restaurants are on our list!

  9. Hey! Love your blog. Never been to Pho Vietnam, even though it’s owned by one of my sorority sister’s parents, haha. Pho Hoang is good and so is Green Papaya.

  10. The fake deer head on the wall does in fact sing and move around. I think they usually just have it turned off. My wife and I have been in the restaurant before when the owner/waiter turned it on to entertain some kids that were sitting in the booth below it.

  11. Wow. Thanks for sharing, Matt. We’re drawn back there now even more…a sick fascination with the hilarious horror that is the singing deer head.

    Plus, it’s rainy. A steaming bowl of pho sounds great.

  12. Wow, not even sure what to say. I’m all for trying new…. but have shied away from here. Some of the pics don’t make me any more brave, but my curiosity will get me there. Thanks!

    • Give it a try, Tammy! Life’s too short and this big world is too big and full of good eats to only try the most familiar. We’ll vouch for this place. This is part of what our mission here at Fort Smith Eats is–using our spirit of adventure to try things for you first, tell you what’s worthwhile. There’s no guarantee you’ll like it even if it gets the Fort Smith Eats seal of approval, but hopefully the idea of trying it is a little less intimidating.

      Vietnamese food is typically full of fresh herbs. Light flavors mixed with a few strong ones, and then seasoned to your own taste with whatever sauces (ala Rooster Sauce) you like. It’s pretty customizable. We were hooked on it after our first try years ago.

      Pho Vietnam and Green Papaya are our favorite locally so far.

  13. Pingback: Fort Smith Eats @ Pho 21 « Fort Smith Eats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s