Phở Viet

Bodacious bánh mì and beyond
By MC SLIM JB  |  March 12, 2008
inside_pho_viet3

Let’s be clear up front: Phở Viet, a counter-service Vietnamese joint in the Allston Super 88 supermarket’s slightly seedy food court, serves a smashing bánh mì. For $3, you get a flaky torpedo roll lightly slathered with garlicky mayo, stuffed with a generous portion of marinated grilled beef (beautifully rare inside), scalloped chicken breast, sliced pork loin, shredded pork skin, fried tofu slices, or “ham” (actually cold cuts) with a schmeer of pork-liver pâté. This is topped with shreds of cucumber, carrot, and daikon, sprigs of cilantro, and a few fierce sliced bird chilies.

The result is one gobsmacking hoagie: a complex interplay of meaty richness, vegetal crunch, good-bread crusty chewiness, and trenchant fresh-herb, garlic, and chili-fire notes. Why would I order anything else? Well, because my editor made me, though I’m gratified to report that Phở Viet does phở ($6.25–$6.50) rather well: a generous bowl of scalding-hot broth with real beef- or chicken-stock flavors, ungummy rice noodles, and lots of meat, plus a garnish plate of fresh chili slices, bean sprouts, and basil.

For lighter snacks, there are fine shrimp and chicken fresh summer rolls ($3.75), and thick-skinned pan-fried dumplings ($5.50) with gingery minced pork, served with a vinegar-tart dipping sauce. (In sandwiches, rolls, and dumplings, Phở Viet is more generous with meat fillings than most competitors.) “Crispy dumplings” ($5.50) are weird refugees from an American-Chinese menu: eight deep-fried, flower-folded, cream-cheese-stuffed wontons served with plum sauce. Crab Rangoon sans imitation crab, anyone? The famished should opt for one of the huge rice plates, such as grilled short ribs ($6.95), bony and chewy enough to be hard to eat, but worth the effort.

Drinks — including the iced espresso sweetened with syrupy condensed milk ($2.75), or a frappe-like shake ($3), such as the legume-textured red bean and coconut — are excellent. But I’ll keep returning for the bánh mì. It’s the city’s best version of this cheap street-food marvel — and, I’ll venture, Boston’s best sandwich for the money, period.

Phở Viet, located in the 88 Food Connection, 1095 Comm Ave, in Allston, is open Sunday through Thursday, from 11 am to 10 pm, and on Friday and Saturday, from 11 am to 11 pm. Call 617.562.8828.

  Topics: On The Cheap , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY MC SLIM JB
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN AT ESTELLE’S SOUTHERN CUISINE  |  March 12, 2013
    In food-nerd circles, the question of authenticity is a loaded one.
  •   OYSTER STEW AT STEEL & RYE  |  March 01, 2013
    Pity the poor would-be restaurateur in the city of Boston.
  •   PROVENÇAL FISH STEW AT SYCAMORE  |  February 13, 2013
    For food geeks accustomed to dining in urban Boston, it's easy to be a little dismissive of suburban restaurants.
  •   LAMB BELLY AT PURITAN & COMPANY  |  February 01, 2013
    By about the end of 2011, restaurant-industry PR people had already worn out the phrase "farm to table."
  •   PORCHETTA ARROSTO AT CINQUECENTO  |  January 18, 2013
    As a South Ender, I find it easy to admire the smooth professionalism and crowd-pleasing instincts of the Aquitaine Group, which operates six of its eight restaurants in the neighborhood, including Metropolis, Union, Aquitaine, and Gaslight.

 See all articles by: MC SLIM JB