618 S Weller Street
The International District of Seattle is sort of a dodgy place in the very late evening hours. Whenever I’m there, I always get accosted by some homeless folk, and it happened again this time strolling through there seeking a place to eat. As we navigated the streets and noticed that we were approaching the closing time of several restaurants in the area, we quickly popped into a familiar sight from Vancouver – a Vietnamese pho joint.
According to the company’s website, “in 1983, the first Pho Hoa restaurant opened in San Jose with a tiny kitchen and a few seats”. Its now branched out to many other areas across North America and surprisingly even into some countries in Asia. Not really knowing this, it was kind of strange to run into the familiar signage on the streets of this city in the Pacific Northwest.
It seemed that we were not the only ones with some late night hunger pains, as inside the place was occupied with a few larger groups of Asian youths. With some pressure to get our orders into the kitchen before they gave up on the night, we began with a duo of spring rolls – one deep fried, the other fresh. In hindsight, I suppose ordering anything cooked in a vat of hot oil at the end of a restaurant’s business hours is not wise, as the oil is probably very stale and infused with a lot of impurities. I didn’t notice any foul scent nor was it overly colored, so it seemed like we lucked out.
They each came with a different side dipping sauce (fish/soy) and presentation left much to be desired. I’m sure you have your own personal preference but for some reason, tag teamed with a bowl of hot pho, I’ll usually opt for the fried type. Interestingly, I’ve never tried the spring rolls in the Vancouver establishments of Pho Hoa, so don’t really have a point of direct comparison to make here. Nevertheless, they were alright for what they were – something warm to eat before the main event.
I wonder, does the swapping of lime for lemon bother anyone, on the fresh plate that accompanies pho? I’ve also noticed of late, some customers asking for their sprouts to be blanched and not raw. To each his own I suppose.
Pictured above is my rather tame order of pho with sliced raw beef and beef balls. The broth was less salty and therefore perhaps not as flavorful as I remember it the times I’ve eaten at Pho Hoa in Vancouver. It wasn’t terrible however, and here I quote my dining mate tee who said “I have not much to say to be honest, although it was the type of pho that just feels comfortable – it hit the spot because honestly at THAT moment, it’s exactly what I wanted”. I have to agree, the meal was completely forgettable – and summed up as being just average.