Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Root, Bun, and Roll

My favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Cleveland is #1 Pho on Superior Avenue. We've been to Superior Pho (when it was Pho Hoa), Minh Anh, and Taydo, as well as a few other restaurants who advertise serving Vietnamese food but fail miserably. None of them come close to the variety of dishes, great flavor, and service of #1 Pho.

365-53 No1 Pho storefront
Day 053/365

Not only do I adore the food, I like the space -- hardwood floors, and a simple, open floor plan.

Our favorite appetizer is the chargrilled pork summer rolls (2 for $4). Since we first came here several years ago, there has never been a time when we have not ordered this. The marinated meat is smoky and thinly sliced so it isn't chewy. Along with the fresh vegetables, these rolls are perfection with the nuoc cham dipping sauce.

365-53 No1 Pho Summer Rolls
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Today, we also ordered a meatball summer roll (2 for $4), our second favorite summer roll. Don't let the red color scare you. The meatballs are seasoned, but not spicy. The thicker, sweeter sauce complements the grilled meatball.

Sauces served with #1 Pho's rolls are different for each roll, and complements each ingredient.

365-53 No1 Pho Meatball Summer Roll
Day 053/365

While I absolutely adore their pho tai, bun rieu (tomato crab noodle soup), and other delectable dishes, the heat and humidity wilted my desire for them. A cool, crunchy salad and bowl of cold noodles were what we craved.

Our favorite salad is the lotus root salad because it has a refreshing flavor and crunchy texture. Generous portions of tender, young, and slender slivers of lotus root and shrimp are tossed with onions, and carrot slivers in a slightly sweet and piquant sauce that tastes of lime, fish sauce, and vinegar. Crushed peanuts are sprinkled on top.

Thai basil was added since I do not eat cilantro. A plate of cilantro was served on the side for Bug to enjoy. Order substitutions are done without hesitation. If we are not in the mood for pork in our salad, chicken may be substituted.

365-53 No1 Pho Lotus Root Salad
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We usually order the chargrilled pork bun (cold noodles); however, I wanted to try a different bun today -- meatball and shrimp spring roll. The shrimp roll consists of whole shrimp wrapped in rice paper, then deep fried. This roll is much smaller than their spring roll filled with ground pork and rice vermicelli.

The noodles always arrive cool and perfectly cooked. They are served over a handful of crisp lettuce and crunchy bean sprouts. Pickled daikon and carrots, cucumbers, crushed peanuts, and french fried onions are served atop the noodles.

365-53 No1 Pho Meatball Bun Shrimp Roll
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Nuoc cham is served in a cup to pour over the noodles. Manners be damned, I enjoy the flavor of the sauce-soaked rolls so I usually bury a bite of my spring roll at the bottom of the bowl and another bite in some reserved sauce in the sauce cup.

The owner chef is a nice man who is pretty hip, easygoing, and unpretentious. It is always a pleasure to talk with him. #1 Pho is one of our top three restaurants we return to most often in this city filled with what seems like an infinite number of solid restaurants.

- Cassaendra

#1 Pho
3120 Superior Ave E
Cleveland, OH 44114
Tel: (216) 781-1176

2 deep thoughts:

Mrs. L 05 August, 2011 14:00  

There is such a huge Vietnamese community around me that Pho places abound (along with a ton of Mexican food places). Alas I rarely go and rarely experiment beyond anything but Pho. I may have to get out of my rut and try some new things, all your photos made me hungry!

Cassaendra 08 August, 2011 19:50  

Hi Mrs. L,

I am so envious! Growing up in Hawaii and vacationing in California, I did not take advantage of the concentration of Asian/Hawaiian restaurants. It was when this was carved from my life that I realized what I had. :(

You may like bun rieu (tomato crab noodle soup). It's very different.

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