Pho @TheSpot: #NotSoMuch

9

Maybe I don’t like pho as much as I thought I did or maybe my review from years ago that NYC has terrible pho is wholly accurate. In my latest disappointment, I visited @TheSpot, a takeaway pho place located at 719 2nd Ave. After my less than stellar dining experience at Nha Trang One, a reader recommended this place.

@TheSpot, you won't find TPOL There
@TheSpot, you won’t find TPOL There

The Restaurant

Walking in, I fell in love with the place. It had a simple menu on the wall, a rack of self-serve hoisin and sriracha, and the classic Vietnam plastic chairs.

Authentic Stools
Authentic Stools
Clever menu
Clever menu
I hate NY for its minimum cc amounts. Just charge more for the food and build it into the price.
I hate NY for its minimum cc amounts. Just charge more for the food and build it into the price.
Nice touch
Nice touch

The Summer Rolls 

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got. Summer rolls tell restaurant goers nothing about the quality of the pho. Here, the spring in the summer rolls i.e., the bounceability, indicated that the rolls were freshly prepared. They were loaded with shrimp and had the perfect amount of mint. The peanut dipping sauce was too watery.

Tacky plastic cups for watery hoisin
Tacky plastic cups for watery hoisin

Cafe Sua Dah 

While I had this at the end of the meal, I’m putting the coffee review here as the pho is always the marquee. Part of the fun of cafe sua dah is monitoring the coffee as it passes through the filter into the condensed milk, putting that yummy concoction into a glass of ice, and frantically stirring it around until the right consistency is achieved. @TheSpot they prepared it for me. This level of service was not the problem, the lack of flavor was.

Nothing more than iced coffee
Nothing more than iced coffee

The Main Event: The Pho 

$9 for a bowl of pho is a bit pricey but given the neighborhood it was acceptable. I’d gladly pay more for a pho spot in a neighborhood I frequent. Unfortunately, the pho was bad from top to bottom.

Great presentation: Look at that spoon! But a metal spoon and a piping hot bowl don't actually mix.
Great presentation: Look at that spoon! But a metal spoon and a piping hot bowl don’t actually mix.

The Noodles 

When preparing pho, pho chefs first place the noodles for a short period of time in hot, not boiling water, because rice noodles cook very fast. From there, the noodles are taken out of the hot water and put into cold water to keep them from overcooking. At this restaurant, and for the first time ever, I experienced overcooked noodles that were clumped together. No good.

At first glance, I was thrilled to see the number of onions
At first glance, I was thrilled to see the number of onions

The Broth

What’s with the pepper? Pho requires a clear broth. Pepper is not the spice that promotes this quality. Enough said.

Looks can be decieving
Looks can be decieving

The Beef 

You lost me after the noodles and broth to even appreciate how the beef was perfectly prepared.

Beef is perfectly undercooked
Beef is perfectly undercooked

Overall 

I wanted to like @TheSpot but I simply cannot. Look at how much of the bowl was left untouched. NYC pho fails me again.

Abandoned with so much to go
Abandoned with so much to go
The Marquee should be the food not the sign
The Marquee should be the food not the sign

 

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been terribly disappointed by pho in NYC also. I moved here from Reno 9 years ago, which amazingly has pretty great pho at a restaurant called Pho 777.

    My family lives there still, so every time I go home I get pho, mexican, and ethiopian (all of which Reno does with competence, strangely).

    • Interesting. I’ve never been to Reno but I’ll add it to my list for pho! I’m glad someone else is disappointed. I was beginning to think my taste buds were failing me.

      • Maybe it has something to do with the cilantro or jalapenos, which would be a consistent explanation for why mexican food here tends to be wanting as well. I’d wager California provides better ingredient integrity than wherever it is we get ours on the east coast.

        I was in Cartagena just 10 days ago, so bummed I missed your post on arepas. I am definitely not complaining about what we did eat though. That place was amazing.

        • I’ve failed you as a blogger. I was there in September and am just now publishing my Travel Guide. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. When I’m in Utah ( Salt Lake City area ), Phô is a staple of my diet. I wonder what you would think of it there. I don’t mean trendy downtown places. I mean places outside of the main fiefdom. There are some great hole in the wall places with giant bowls sub $8.

  3. I’m no pho Conneissuer. But there’s a hole in the wall underneath the 4 train, between kingsbridge & fordham on Jerome Ave, Bronx that has a super decent pho in my humble opinion. Been there at least 16 years. Place looks like a warehouse. Hope you have better luck next time.

    • i accept your challenge. that is like a mile north of my favorite ghanian food in the city. probably not unlike OP, if there is good pho in the five boroughs, i’ll not object to distance.

      well, unless it’s staten island. let’s be reasonable.

      • You know a Vietnamese Uber guy told me of a spot in the Bronx. Said everywhere else was shit. Could be the same, could be different but as long as it’s not in Manhattan, it’s probably better. And yeah, staten island? I think it’s more convenient to fly to HCM.

Leave a Reply