|Overall (based on 2 ratings)|
|Broth (flavor, fragrance, clarity)|
|Noodles (texture, clumpiness)|
|Meat (tenderness, quality)|
|Vegetables (variety, freshness)|
A+ to their online site that showcased their restaurant in the best possible light and the expansive menu. Wow, white linen service with back street prices? I was so looking forward to check in the Taj Mahal of pho... For some reason, the VN restaurants strings out along Pioneer Pkwy with no discernable cluster. Pho Palace is nestled off street in a strip mall facing inward away from Pioneer so you only spot it one way, if you are south bound on Collins.... at night. As I walk up, the stately mansion I envisioned gave way to a cozy sized restaurant, staged photo lighting of linen cloth fine dining ambiance resolving to diner style glass table top over vinyl table cloth, I have arrived!!! Getting over the shock of reality, I dove into the menu and even though the impressive layout is still intact, prices have come up across the board from what was shown on the online menu. Normally that would be called false advertising but I know better to debate the finer points of this with VN establishment owners. Service is friendly enough, ordered my baseline L with TGBV. Then waitress asked something I haven't heard for a while, do I wanted my bean sprouts raw or blanched. Blanched if you please, keeps my broth piping hot! Just on a hunch, I ordered extra onions... The special that night have a drink with a twist, pennyworth shake with mung bean, sounds interesting. The restaurant start filling up with large family groups with kids, more than half ordered pho. Small clusters of gals huddle to tables away from the door to stay away from the cold of the people coming in, bantering away with shopping trivials, it sounds like New Year's is already here and not a couple of weeks away. Music was loud enough to be heard above the din, playing instrumental versions of what my kids called old people music. My order arrived promptly and gingerly placed before me, blanched sprouts, my extra onions... swimming in a tiny bowl of beef tallow, rounding out with the emerald milky drink, I'm set. The pho bowl was filled to the brim, the broth as suspected, definitely Bac style: darker and cloudy . Even then, it taste less substantial than it looks and registering only a tiny hint of anise. Noodles were fresh and al dente, yay! The rare steak, thick cuts of tendons, and chewy beef meatballs (TGBV combo) were just adequately interspersed in the bowl. The blanched sprouts did not cool down the broth as much as the raw and it stayed nice and hot for the duration of the chow down. I rescued my extra onions out of the orangy clarified tallow and shuddered to think how many people actually enjoyed slurping that down with their meal. Yup, haven't seen that since pho Bac in Seattle.
Wash all that down with the shake rau ma dau xanh ... was so so. The mung bean muted the pennyworth tang which I expected, may be less so desirable with other folks. The mung bean also have a slightly thick gritty consistently that kinda branded it as the dessert che dau xanh and less of shake sinh to. Anyway, VN Taj Mahal it ain't, but if you want to get a social gathering in a clean cozy informal family atmosphere off the beaten path, add this to your itinerary.