Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pho Hiep Noa!

In the interest of research, the missus and I ventured to the 2nd floor of downtown SS for lunch today. It was against my better judgement, but in the interest of research...

Anyway, we tried Pho Hiep Hoa, and while neither of us were hungry after we finished, we really can't say much about our lunch. We started with the garden rolls ($4.95). We ordered the veggie rolls which came with wrapped with tofu, veggies, greens, etc and were pretty good. It was served with peanut sauce and really anything served with that stuff cannot be all that bad. Let's admit it, the item we are dipping is essentially a delivery system to get the peanut sauce into our pie hole, i.e., summer rolls, old shoes, cardboard, c'mon, you dip anything in there and it ends up being pretty damn good.

Given it was like 99 degrees outside we didn't want something piping hot for lunch so we both ordered vermicelli noodles. We had one with shrimp and the other with tofu (although tofu is not on the menu they did make it for me - I liked that). What came to the table was pretty straightforward, vermicelli noodles with some veggies and bean sprouts and fish sauce on the side. However the shrimp served with the one dish were perhaps the worst I have ever tasted in my life. I am not sure what they did, or if maybe the shrimp was from like 1998, but man, it was not good. And I am not one to pass up on shrimpies, but these things were not acceptable at all!

I know, it does look pretty good, but trust me, it was not!!

Thankfully the kitchen was confused by my order and they ended up adding tofu to my dish and then cooking up another order for some reason. The waiter brought out the extra tofu and asked if we wanted it - on the house - so we said sure. I am glad we did since the shrimp were inedible.

I guess all in all this place is not the worst of the worst, but overall the setting is bland and sterile - I know, Ellsworth, I'm really telling you something you don't already know - and the food is completely uninspiring. And the prices were more than I thought they should be too. No lunch specials and most of the lunch dishes were about $9 and up. What about something for $6.99 that comes with a spring roll?

If you are jonesing for Vietnamese and can walk a bit, do yourself a favor and head south on Georgie to Lotus Cafe. While this is not fine dining, I am confident you will have a better meal and you'll be dining in a place with a little character. And the folks who run it are great too.

Now I will juxtapose our lunch with a great dinner at Thai Derm. Again, this place is not the be all and end all of Thai restaurants, but it is a wonderful place to have in the 'hood. They are consistent, the people are wonderful and the prices are good. And I must say it helps that I can walk there. But I for one would not be a happy camper if TD was not around.

And although the deep-fried whole fish (tilapia) is usually reserved on for Fridays, they served me up one tonight. Mmmm, it was yummy. And what a site it is. I mean, look at this thing.

If you are there on a Friday night (or perhaps a Thurs) I would recommend you try it.

OK, my next post will be focused on lobster as we head to paradise in the morning for some needed time off. Maine -- vacationland!

Can someone pass me the butter?


Springvale Roader said...

We went to Pho Hiep Noa once. Once.

So why can't DTSS get some Thai or Vietnamese restaurants that both serve good food and have nice ambience? It's not that hard to do both (especially the latter -- just hire a good decorator one time). But then, I'm in love with Ruan Thai, and the ambience there, well, sucks. But, the food is more than good -- it's the best around. If it was only good, we'd go to Bethesda for Thai.

Have fun in Maine. Watch out for the black flies!

Glenn, kenixfan said...

Yeah, when Pho Hiep Noa first opened, they had no lunch specials and a bar. Then lunch specials and no bar. And so on.

The menu is largely and confusing and lunch specials?

I have a very hard time convincing myself to go there anymore as I keep comparing them to Vietnamese places in NoVa and in that comparison Pho Hiep Noa just seems awful.

Lotus is acceptable but I've not been in months.

What this area desperately needs is a real Korean restaurant. That kind of place would make a fortune at lunch and dinner.

hugo said...

I've spent a lot of time in Thailand and so am hard to please on that score, but that Thai place across from the AFI theatre is fantastic. full stop. Unfortunately they don't have air conditioning, but that just makes it a more authentic Thai experience.

A Korean place would be amazing, I agree.

WheatonCalling said...

I'm a big fan of Lotus Cafe, and despite trying a few places in my neighborhood, I can't find one I like quite as much. I will say that the Pho Hiep Hoa in Wheaton on University Blvd (where the CVS and Max's Kosher Cafe) has good pho, if that's what you're in the mood for.

nognews said...

Last time I went to Pho Hiep Noa, they seated my boyfriend and I and then no one came. For half an hour. We ended up walking out and won't be going back.

I'd love a Korean restaurant local, but I spend enough time in Gaithersburg that Ichiban on 355 is there to satisfy my kimchi cravings :)

John said...

Thanks for your blog! Great stuff here.

One suggestion: when you mention Lotus Cafe & Thai Derm, you link away from your blog. BUT you have some great reviews for those restaurants in your archives. I just accidentally stumbled on them. Link back to your fine work!

Emily said...

Okay, I have to ask about Thai Derm... IS it usually good? I went there about a month ago, and it was horrific. I'm not exaggerating, I swear; I know good Thai food but recognize most places serve only okay Thai, and my expectations weren't high.

But both my boyfriend and I were disgusted. No fish sauce/normal flavors to be found, just overcooked, greasy noodles, horribly dry and tasteless chicken, and the dumplings tasted like sawdust.

And I'm not usually very picky about my dumplings. It was HORRIBLE, a 100% unpleasing meal and I tell everyone I know who live in the area that.

That's not typical?