Vietnamese Restaurant — a Review

 

Pho Thien Long 

      It’s cold outside. I’m hungry, but I’m too tired to cook tonight. I just finished with a long day of classes and I feel like bellying up to a big bowl of Pho. Pho is a wonderful Vietnamese soup comprised of broth, meat, noodles, spices, and assorted condiments. No one knows the exact origin of pho, but it has influences from both the French and the Vietnamese. The first known pho restaurant started in the 1920’s in Hanoi. It grew in popularity until the 1970’s, when fleeing refugees shared the recipes with neighboring countries. It found its way to America after the war when returning soldiers wanted the spices and variety that they were used to in Vietnam. Here in Humboldt we have few good options for ethnic foods. One place I have found to be very tantalizing is Pho Thien Long.  Located at 615 F ST., across the street from the Eureka Theater between 6th and 7th, Pho Thien Long is a Vietnamese restaurant specializing in Pho. Walking into the place you immediately get greeted with a warm smiling face as your nose gets hit with a plethora of aromatic scents. After I am seated, I notice how warm and inviting the place is on the inside (outside not so much) and how everything is well decorated. The reds and the golds invoke a memory of grand Asian restaurants I have visited in LA and SF. The tables are well organized so that many of the tables are pretty private, perfect for a nice quiet dinner where you can actually hear the person across from you. On the table are some tasty and spicy condiments, including four different kinds of chilies, hoision, fish, and soy sauces.  Looking over the menu there are so many delicious choices. They have nice appetizer or “Khai Vi” menu that has different types of spring rolls, a small 4 item vegetarian “Do Chay” menu, and a kids menu. Offering diverse choices in the pho they have beef, chicken, seafood, and tofu. If soup isn’t your thing, the vermicelli noodle plate “Bun” or the rice plate “Com” comes with different types of meats. Then, if you’re not in the mood for Vietnamese food they have Thai style specials that include soups, curries, fried rice, pan fried noodles, salads, and dessert.   Once our server saw we were finished looking at the menu he came over with a pleasant smile and took our order. First I ordered crispy egg rolls, “Cha Gio,” they were tasty but very greasy and only gave a small piece of lettuce to wrap it with. They didn’t last long. Then I tried to decide what pho to get out of their 26 varieties. I finally decided on the house special combo beef noodle, “Pho dac biet”, a combination of eye round steak, well-done brisket, fat brisket, flank steak, tendon, tripe, meatballs, and I had them add on a few fish balls to round it all out.    They placed this giant bowl in front of me with a small plate on the side for bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, and jalapeño. Here stands in front of me an amazing site of steaming aromatic broth with a huge mountain of noodles, and various odds and ends of thinly sliced raw beef so it will cook only when its introduced to the broth. The meat and fish balls floated around the bowl, dipping and rising every time they hit my spoon. After adding the different types of chilies and the sauces, my soup goes from a murky tan to a dark red with chilies oil floating up to the top. The great thing about pho is that you get a basic soup, but then everyone can add their own ingredients at the table, making it to their taste.

  Coming from LA I’ve had my fair share of great Pho and this doesn’t beat them but it comes close. The servers were kind and prompt, the décor was tasteful and eye pleasing, the prices were reasonable (a large bowl of Pho is $7.95), the food was delicious, and it’s made with a great deal of local ingredients. This is one of my new favorite restaurants and I will continue to come back and leave that place will a FULL soup filled stomach every time.

Andy Abbott 

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