The Gluten-Free Gourmand
Another Phở restaurant review, I’m sorry. I’ve been having a craving, and as we are saving up money to buy a house, Phở’s “cheap eats” appeal makes it too hard to resist.
As a friend recently said, you eat Phở in West Valley. While that’s generally true, we do have a couple gems outside of the West Valley City borders; Phở Tay Ho and now Phở 33.
Phở 33 is a relatively new restaurant having opened around the beginning of October. One really cool aspect to note is that they offer delivery. Phở delivery? What? Phở real. If I lived in the Midvale area, I would be pretty stoked about that service.
The outside atmosphere isn’t too great. Typical lower State street blight and it shares the space with a shady looking bar. This might be a deterrent for some, but I’ve found that the best ethnic food typically comes from these types of circumstances. Inside, the atmosphere is clean but nothing fancy and could probably use some updating. If you’re looking for a pretty place to eat, this isn’t the place. And watch out for some errant springs to pop out of those booths. I didn’t see any make the break, but sitting down I felt a few trying to pinch my butt. LMFAO and other top 40 dance hits were the musical accompaniment for the meal.
However, we were here for some Phở and Phở only. That’s where Phở 33 shines – they make some killer Phở.
The plate of garnishes was brought out almost immediately after we ordered. Much like Asia Palace, I was pleased to see culantro as one of the items offered. For condiments, they had the obligatory sriracha and hoisin, but no chili oil. I didn’t plan on using any so I didn’t ask if they had any in the back I could use, so chili oil lovers might want to consider asking.
We did not order the off-menu special Phở 33 which is like a đặc biệt (all selections of beef, including tripe and tendon) that you would find on most Phở menus with the addition of Oxtail bone that you would NOT find at most Phở places in Salt Lake City. Next time I will probably order this, even though I’m not a tendon fan, just to see how much that bone adds to the flavor of the broth.
What we did order was the #13 – rare beef, flank, and beef ball – and the #14 – rare beef and beef ball. Both of which came out in giant deep bowls with a generous topping of scallions, onions, and cilantro. The broth was deeper colored than some and extremely aromatic. I could tell the instant I laid eyes on it that we had found a winner.
In line with my usual Phở ritual, I started the meal with a taste of the broth. It’s a bit sweeter than the broth found at Asia Palace (which is my benchmark for all Phở broth) but every bit as rich – YUM. The serving of meat was also extremely generous. The noodles were chewy and a bit more dense than Asia Palace, but this wasn’t a bad thing for us, just different. The rare beef was cut perfectly paper thin and in very large cuts and the beef balls were of average size. The hubby had ordered the same bowl with the addition of flank, which was a nice fatty flank. My only complaint were the beef balls as they had some pretty large chunks of tendon in them that were not very pleasant to chew. A liberal bath of a hoisin and srirachi bath made those tolerable.
The service was extremely attentive, and when I asked for a box to take home the portion of the massive bowl of Phở I could not finish, the waitress told us that she would box it (thank the stars, because I am NOT a professional Phở boxer, for sure, and we always end up with a nice puddle on our table when I attempt). I was even more pleased when she returned and the boxes had been shrink-wrapped, despite how much I love my Phở scented car mats.
One last detail to note – their Vietnamese coffee is served pre-dripped and ready to drink. If you want it to drip at your table, I assume you could ask – try it.
I’m adding this to my top three Phở places in Salt Lake City. Give them a little more time, and we’ll see how they rate.