Pho is one of those dishes that is a royal pain to make at home and is also ridiculously inexpensive at a restaurant - which could just very well explain why I don't know a single person who makes it at home. The one bowl of pho I tried making once still paled in comparison to the real thing.
For us, the old standby is Le's (formerly Pho Pasteur) in Havard Square. They have a few locations around the city, all of which are located in difficult-to-park places. They are cheap, fast, and offer up a solid bowl of hot, steaming pho.
So when we discovered that there was a new pho place just a few minutes drive away in Somerville (with plenty of parking), we knew we had to try it.
Pho 'N Rice took over the old Zoe's location on Beacon Street. The space is small, bright, and clean. The menu is surprisingly extensive, and has a full range of both Vietnamese and Thai dishes. In fact, the restaurant seems to be more of a Southeast Asian restaurant than just a pho place.
Bun Bo Hue ($7.95)
My friend got the lemongrass noodle soup, which consists of.rice vermicelli in a beef lemongrass broth with flank steak and tendon. The soup had a nice deep rich flavor, although it was a bit greasy.
I ordered one of my favorite Thai dishes, drunken noodle with tofu. I thought it was only OK. Nothing in this dish particularly stood out to me. I mean, the flavors were fine enough and were definitely characteristic of the dish. However, I've had much better versions of this dish elsewhere.
Another friend ordered the duck noodle soup and seemed to enjoy it, although I can't comment firsthand on the dish since I did not try it.
These are only first impressions
I think it's too early at this stage to give a firm overall review of the place. I definitely was quite excited at the diversity of the menu. Overall, our first meal there was decent. They know how to make all your classic Thai and Vietnamese favorites. The few that we tried may not have been the best we've had in Boston, but they were definitely acceptable and still enjoyable.
It's nice to have a place where you know you can find parking, seating, friendly service, and reasonably good food. For us, Le's is still our first choice for Vietnamese food. However, if we're ever craving Southeast Asian food in general, and we really don't feel like walking in the cold to Harvard Square or looking for parking, Pho 'N Rice is a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pho 'n Rice
296 Beacon Street
Somerville, MA 02143
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