Aug 292011
 

I don’t normally review chain restaurants on this blog, but as Mr. Ferruzza has pointed out, Pho Hoa is run much more like an independent restaurant. It fits nicely into the spectrum of Vietnamese joints on the near northeast side, and is perhaps a little hipper and more boisterous.

Exterior

Interior

Interior

The decor is not necessarily modern but it doesn’t incorporate the kitschy, old lady aesthetic that many Asian restaurants do. As many have noted, Pho Hoa is difficult to locate from the street, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped many people from finding it. My visits have found it quite busy, patronized by youthful Vietnamese, curious suburban whiteys, students from the nearby medical college and even some older folks. The sea of tables in the main dining room creates quite the upbeat atmosphere, as do the host of young employees who seem to share all duties, from hosting and sandwich-making to food running and bussing. One fairly clueless server with a poor grasp of English took our orders, but we were equally attended by other workers who delivered our drinks, appetizers and food, and others still who delivered our check and we found them quick and friendly.

The house special banh mi is quite delicious, although a little too sweet for my taste. Having tasted a similar version from Kim Long’s I find I prefer that sandwich.

Banh Mi

The namesake Pho was good, and featured the best treatment of tendon that I have ever tasted. We were disappointed not to see the accompanying plate of bean spouts and herbs that always come with Pho, undoubtedly an oversight due to the busyness of the place and the odd division (or lack of division) of labor.

Pho

The food all came out at different times, and the Pho was last, making it less desirable to ask for the accompaniments since we were already full. Indeed my partner received her drink almost immediately while I waited quite a while for my avocado shake. I made it through an order of spring rolls (they call them summer rolls) before I received it. The shake was only slightly sweet, but silky, rich and delicious. The avocado flavor was not particularly strong but I really enjoyed the beverage and would order it again. In general, I was a little disappointed at not receiving our dishes in any order that made sense.

Avocado Shake

Summer Rolls

Nothing at Pho Hoa struck me as being any better looking or tasting than other Vietnamese spots in Columbus Park. The selection of banh mi is a selling point for sure, but better Pho can be had almost anywhere else in town, particularly Hien Vuong in the City Market, Vietnam Cafe and Sung Son in Westport. I feel likewise about the spring rolls and the banh mi. But Pho Hoa does offer all these items under one roof and in a perfectly acceptable style.

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup on Urbanspoon

  4 Responses to “Pho Hoa: 1447 Independence Ave., KCMO”

  1. Banh Mi’s they sell elsewhere are cold, they make theirs to order and hot. The only other place that was doing it was Vingh Hoa which closed years ago. I also liked the smoothies, did not expect to like avocado but it had a great nutty flavor, plus they ground up a whole avocado in it. I like the place but I only had sandwiches and smoothies so far.

  2. I had a banh mi at Kim Longs that was made to order and it was great. It was on a weekend so perhaps they ran out of premade ones or something. I’ve only tried the house special one at Pho Hoa and found the sauce a little sweet, but I want to try more.

  3. We had Shaking Beef, which was quite good. The cup of broth that came with it was terrific, with sawtooth herb. Not many places here add the sawtooth. Also had the summer rolls, good but not exceptional. We’ve had grilled pork banh mi, which was good. Pho Ga was enjoyable. The broth was on the sweet side, but that seems to be the norm in KC. Our service was curious, but ok.

  4. After many years in New Orleans, which has both a highly acclaimed restaurant industry and a large Vietnamese community, I became addicted to Vietnamese Pho, eating it weekly. Very quickly after moving to Kansas City I began my search for this delicious soup. After many disappointing experiences at several other local Vietnamese restaurants, I finally found Pho Hoa KC. As soon as the first spoonful of broth hit my tastebuds, I knew that I had found the best Pho in Kansas City. I starting going weekly and have tried most of the menu items. The appetizers, vermicelli bowls and rice plates are all quite excellent. The bành mí sandwiches are some of the best I have ever had anywhere and of course the signature item, the special Pho, would rival any in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston or Los Angeles. The owner is also a talented chef who is willing and able to make off-menu items, vegetarian and vegan items, and special requests. The eating area is spacious and clean. The atmosphere and decor are authentic and pleasant. The service is very good even when they are busy. Other than the Venetian Creme ice coffee from Kaldi’s Coffee Museum in the French Quarter of New Orleans (which is now closed), the Pho Hoa KC Cà Phê Sữa Đá (House Special Iced Milk Coffee) is the best iced coffee I have ever had and a delicious way to end a meal. I give my highest recommendation to this restaurant. If you are anywhere near Kansas City, it is well worth the trip.

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