For years, American foodies have been raving about pho. On every food blog, pho here, pho there, pho every fricking where!
I didn’t try pho right away because I’m more of a creamy, chunky soup kind of gal.
I finally bit the bullet and dined at Pho Huong Viet, formally Pho Xinh, in Cherry Hill on a slow Tuesday afternoon.
I was seated immediately and seconds later, the server jumped straight to the point, asking me what I wanted to eat.
Of course, I ordered the pho with shrimp (pho tom), but first asked for the chicken summer rolls as an appetizer. To wash that all down, I got the taro shake with bubbles.
This was my first time trying summer rolls as well and I was surprised that the rice paper was more hard than soft and snapped loudly when bitten into. The glutenous glass noodles inside gave a softer texture, as juxtaposed with the crunchy fresh vegetables they were rolled up with. These rolls were definitely a different culinary experience for me and were quite bland. I enjoyed the thick and balanced peanut dipping sauce on the side, though. It was nutty, salty, sweet and gave much needed flavor to the rolls.
Next was the big steamy bowl of pho tom. Before tasting the broth, I made sure to squeeze in some fresh lime juice (they provided limes on the side, along with jalapenos and bean sprouts). I love lime and bean sprouts and wanted them to marry in the hot broth.
The broth was very nice with a deep concentrated flavor. It was very warm and sent a heated sensation throughout my body. The glass noodles helped in making it rather filling. The cilantro and green onions gave a fresh and light crunch. The jalapenos provided a much needed kick that cut through that salty broth. The shrimp were plump and meaty. An excellent dish for a cold and windy day.
Last was the taro shake with bubbles. This was my first time having a Vietnamese style shake, so I had no idea what to expect. I sipped through the wide straw and was a little startled by something swimming around in my mouth. It was only the tapioca bubble.
Though the shake tasted different than the kind of shakes Americans are used to, it was very good. It was creamy, but was made of a lot of ice, so it wasn’t heavy at all. Even though the tapioca balls didn’t have much of a taste, I kept going back for them. Ball after ball, I scooped them out of the shake and tossed them in my mouth. The sweet nuttiness of the taro gave a balance to the shake, allowing it to be more than just sweet.
From brothy to creamy, I enjoyed many of the tastes I experienced at Pho Huong Viet. Maybe I can even say I ‘ve planted myself onto the pho bandwagon.