Noodles Ranch is my favorite pho place in Arizona. The pho is delicious and I’ve known the friendly owner for over a decade. While I felt guilty about going to a competing pho restaurant, I swore an oath to try as much pho as possible before I die.
Enter Pho King Kitchen Scottsdale, a restaurant that infringes on my title and my favorite t-shirt from Vietnam.
Like Shake Shack, the restaurant was self-service. As an anti-tipper, I appreciated that.
I also liked the eclectic menu. Usually, I am not a proponent of ‘Asian fusion’, but I appreciated the twist on Vietnamese favorites.
I liked the all you can eat toppings.
This is what it’s all about. Forget the name of the place; forget the trendy vibe. Ultimately, it comes down to the bowl.
The picture does not lie. The broth was top notch.
Thinly cut pieces of beef in generous portions are another sign of a great bowl.
Unlike the gross, thick noodles at Turtle Tower San Francisco, these were thin and not overcooked.
Like a great bottle of wine, a perfect bowl of pho is judged by one thing and one thing only: was it consumed till the last drop?
Indeed it was.
The Bad Service
There’s something off about people in Scottsdale. I have lived here intermittently since 2005 and still cannot explain it. The weather is nice, the cost of living is low, and life is generally pleasant. Despite the sunny outlook, the people are not very friendly. This is puzzling because many of Scottsdale’s residents are transplants from the Midwest where they were not raised to have bad attitudes. I’m not sure what it is about moving here that makes people go from courteous to crass. The apathy in customer service is systemic in many of the bars and restaurants. And it was on full display at Pho King Kitchen. The cashier acted as if she was doing me a favor by taking my order. At no time was she remotely pleasant. Simple requests like asking for extra beef was met with groans.
I am making a big deal of this for two reasons:
1) No matter how good the pho is, restaurateurs are in the service industry. Bad service means no customers. No customers means no business.
2) The pho at Noodles Ranch is excellent, but it’s the happy demeanor of the owner that makes the experience worthwhile.
Pho is meant to be savored. Unlike fast-food, it is eaten slowly so it can be appreciated. At Pho King, I was off-put by the service that I should have ordered the bowl for takeaway. It is possible that the cashier was having a bad day but it is more likely, given the location of the restaurant, that this was another example of Scottsdale snobbery.
Service: pho-king terrible.