little did i know that spokane had any real ethnic foods. sure, they have a fantastic new ethiopian place, which certainly rivals any in seattle - but pho??
yes. they have great pho. not good, not average, but great. this review is going to focus on vina asian restaurant's pho. they have other things on the menu, a hodgepodge of chinese, vietnamese, and thai-ish fare. the rest of the food looked marginally better than average, and the fresh rolls were ok. just ok. they were missing flavor in the pork. they were on the small side, and had some nice fresh herbs but not many. to be really good, they need to grill off the pork or do something to make them stand out. the sauce they serve with it could also be improved, and more herbaceous. while the fresh rolls seem be be an ok deal, compared to other vietnamese places they're on the pricy side for the portion they offer. if you haven't had fresh rolls, these are a fair rendition and you won't be disappointed, but don't go out of your way for them.
but do go out of your way for the pho!
the broth flavor was very good. so good i tried to coax my waitress into telling me about it. she wouldn't. the green onions were a nice touch, in particular as it's not unusual to order some fresh onion for 50 cents to a buck at other places. they also had the fresh regular onions too, gratis. the bowl itself was very reminiscent of hanoi pho because the broth is incredibly light, but flavorful and herbaceous. at the same time, it was better than any of the pho I had in vietnam. the sawtooth cilantro (coriander) was a welcome surprise. this southeast asian delicacy (the sawtooth cilantro herb) seems to be too expensive to be a mainstay at american pho restaurants. the warmed bean sprouts were also an interesting touch. warming them turns them an unsettling brown, but the addition of a small amount of heat keeps them from cooling down your broth! maybe if they were grilled, to add a smokey flavor, that would be the best of all worlds. (i digress.)
in addition, while a trivial thing, I love love love the size of the bowl!! the soup fits in it, with room. see. no overflow issues! it's such a small thing, but makes the experience of eating it less -stressful maybe- than even normally.
my only real dings: the restaurant was sparing on the meat they included compared to most other places and there was no brisket option. oh well.
(pho) vina asian restaurant
2303 n ash st, #a
spokane, wa 99205
4.5 of 5 (pho only)