With the Falls Church area having one of the largest populations of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam, it is understandable that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of pho restaurants located within a very small area, each with a different number in the title and each one (essentially) serving the same food. But how to tell the bad from the great?
With the Falls Church area having one of the largest populations of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam, it is understandable that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of pho restaurants located within a very small area, each with a different number in the title and each one (essentially) serving the same food. But how to tell the bad from the great? While eating at every single pho restaurant within a 10-mile radius would be the best way of determining who can be crowned the emperor of the Pho dynasty, the News-Press budget is limited, and so Pho 88 was chosen for its proximity. However, it was an excellent choice that was gastronomically fulfilling and financially sound.
Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a soup made of rice noodles, beef broth, bean sprouts, hot peppers and and basil. The only particular difference between the different pho dishes is how many different kinds of meat you want. Upon ordering your pho, which will usually be delivered to you within minutes, it will appear as if you accidentally ordered something designed to be shared among a village. That is no accident. Even a small bowl is a huge cauldron of fresh ingredients and spices served with a side of sprouts and peppers. If you are not ordering the vegetarian, seafood or chicken pho, your order becomes a question of just how much beef you feel you need. Although many people around this area probably do not eat tripe on a regular basis, it is a perfect fatty addition to the soup and is highly recommended to compliment any other meat in you order.
While the eye-of-round steak was slightly overdone, it soaks up a good amount of the salty broth and goes well with the noodles. Although filling, you will not develop a case of “the itis”, as the pho is quite light, so feel free to get some hot and crispy eggrolls as an appetizer. However, do not allow your eyes to be bigger than your stomach, for those who are unprepared to soak in the aroma of warm, spicy pho will be forced to take it home with them, where it just doesn’t feel the same. Also, if you do not have sriracha sauce at home, go get some right now, as it makes everything at Pho 88 taste even better and will (hopefully) replace ketchup in the near future.
Pho 88 is small, but never feels particularly crowded. The friendly and accommodating servers can help those who are unfamiliar with pho decide on a dish and will generally get your order to you promptly even if all of the tables are full.
The cheap beer, including a few asian imports, is a nice touch, and the sweet milky goodness of the Vietnamese iced coffee was awe-inspiring, but the lack of a soda fountain is kind of disappointing, particularly because this seems to be a trend among pho restaurants. Nevertheless, at less than $7 for a gigantic bowl of delicious and heartwarming pho inside a small and charming building on Route 7, Pho 88 has comfort food for those with more exotic tastes who need something that isn’t deep fried or guaranteed to give you a heart attack. While parking in the lot behind the front entrance may be limited, those within walking distance should be sure to pick some up, run home with it and proceed to veg out with a bowl of Ong Troi, or Vietnamese heaven.
232 W. Broad St., Falls Church
pho88va.com • 703-533-8233
Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.