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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What’s with the pepper? Pho requires a clear broth. Pepper is not the spice that promotes this quality. Enough said.
You lost me after the noodles and broth to even appreciate how the beef was perfectly prepared.
I wanted to like @TheSpot but I simply cannot. Look at how much of the bowl was left untouched. NYC pho fails me again.