So Pho, So Good: A Quick Look at Pho District

Pho District is now open in the So7 area.

Pho District is now open in the So7 area.

New in the So7 district, Pho District is the latest restaurant from Piranha Killer Sushi founder Kenzo Tran. It’s an homage to the street food of his homeland Saigon and Vietnam. He has taken a similar approach as Piranha, honoring the tradition of these foods but chef-afying them with unique twists and turns.

Dry pho ga.

Dry pho ga.

Without question the main attractions here are the four different kinds of pho. Two are made with chicken, two with beef, two dry and two traditional. Dry pho hasn’t taken a hold in the United States but is quite popular in Vietnam. Basically, it’s pho with broth served on the side, allowing you to control the broth to ingredients ratio.

I tried the chicken dry pho and really liked the dry pho approach. It gave me an opportunity to zero in on the broth, which had strong, clean flavors, and to sample the noodles before they were doused. But even when I poured the broth on, the noodles held up. They were slippery and firm and stayed that way until my last bite. I also liked the simple chicken, which was sliced into hearty chunks.

In addition to the chicken dry pho there’s also a regular pho with chicken breast and quail egg, a beef pho with brisket, meat ball and filet mignon, and a dry version of the latter.

Pork belly banh mi.

Pork belly banh mi.

There’s a lot of pork and pork belly on the menu. I tried the pork belly banh mi and for the most part enjoyed it. It contained slices of soft boiled egg and what I thought was a generous serving of pork belly. The sandwich was too small in my opinion. I’d get this at lunch but probably not dinner again. I loved the presentation – it was served on a Vietnamese newspaper, mimicking how you might get it Vietnam (rolled in a newspaper). It came with a cool and creamy slaw that had a kick to it.

Chorizo pancake.

Chorizo pancake.

My favorite dish was the chorizo pancake. The “pancake” was a flash fried rice patty – a spin on a Vietnamese tradition of using burned rice as the pancake. It was a little like banh xeo, but served flat, like an traditional pancake (as opposed to being folded over like a taco, which is how banh xeo is often served). It was dotted with tiny chunks of spicy chorizo and dusted with shredded pork jerky. I definitely recommend it.
Sushi ice cream.

Sushi ice cream.

The sushi ice cream sounded tempting for dessert. Much to our surprise, instead of rice, Rice Krispies came wrapped around vanilla ice cream, all topped with chocolate and strawberry syrup. It was a nice, light dessert. Next time I’m getting the pandan creme brûlée, which our server highly recommended. Other desserts include a sesame donut and banana spring roll.

If you ever visited the space’s previous tenants, Bayou Jack’s and/or So7 Bistro, you won’t recognize the place. The restaurant has been completely revamped with dark colored woods and an enclosed patio. Lighting is soft and decor consists of Vietnamese artwork.

There’s also a full bar and specialty drinks. Judging from this meal alone it’s one of my favorite new restaurants of 2014.

2401 W. 7th St. 817-862-9987.

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