Berks County has seen its restaurant scene grow by leaps and bounds over the past three-and-a-half years since I started doing regular reviews on this blog.
In that time, I have tried to visit as many of the new restaurants as I can, but some have just slipped through.
One of those restaurants that I had missed, the Pho House in Wyomissing, I can now cross off my list.
It’s been two years since the Pho House opened in the former Alebrije, in a strip mall that also houses Laxmi’s Indian Grille and one of two locations for the Original Mama’s Pizza. Of the three, the Pho House occupies the largest space spanning multiple storefronts on the far right side of the strip.
There are booths on either side of the spacious dining room with tables throughout the center. Paintings hang on the walls on either side, but there’s nothing truly remarkable about the decor – that is to say that the Pho House is decidedly non-stereotypical in the decor.
When it comes to the menu, it is distinctly Vietnamese – 19 different varieties of pho, eight rice platters, 10 vermicelli bowls and an assortment of noodle dishes.
Of course, when you visit a restaurant called the Pho House, the only real question is “what kind of pho do I want?”
Five different cuts of beef – eye-round, brisket, flank steak, meatballs and tendon – are available as add-ins for the pho. Choose one or mix-and-match. (Chicken, shrimp and tofu are also available).
All pho dishes are also serve with a mound of bean sprouts to add to the dish. These were delivered to the table first, awaiting their brothy bath.
For my protein, I chose flank steak and brisket. I grabbed a healthy handful of bean sprouts and tossed them in to the mix before taking my first bite.
The thin slices of flank and brisket was almost interchangeable – the brisket having just a little more fat around the edges. Otherwise, they had much the same flavor when mixed with the broth.
Pho is traditionally served with rice noodles, and the Pho House certainly does not skimp. There had to be three or four servings of noodles bundled at the bottom of the bowl so there were plenty of noodles in every bite.
It was definitely a hearty dish and very enjoyable. Scallions, salt and pepper provided much of the flavor for the dish, and the noodles soaked up every bit.
Julie’s combination of eye-round and tendon was also good, though her meat was a lot fattier than my own. Otherwise, it was the same dish as my own (though she didn’t add any bean sprouts).
We had also ordered some Vietnamese eggrolls as an appetizer, but the service was so fast that everything came out together.
I don’t know that there was anything distinctly Vietnamese about them, but they were different from other eggrolls, mostly thanks for a thinner, crispier outer shell. The dipping sauce they were served with made all the difference. It was like a duck sauce but with some additional spices thrown in. If only we had ordered a few more.
I mentioned the speed with which our food was delivered. We were finished with our meals, check in hand and asking for two to-go containers within a half-hour of our arrival.
Pho is a great comfort dish that I do not get to eat often enough. Two years was way too long to wait for a visit to the Pho House.
And I still have a lot more catching up to do. I wonder what else I have been missing?
1816 State Hill Road
Wyomissing, PA 19610