by Amanda Terillo
For my daughter and me, Pho 14 is one of our go to places when she has early dismissal from school. We go here to hang out without the boys for some girl talk. On this particular Friday, we started our meal with iced coffees with condensed milk. While most Vietnamese restaurants will bring out the French press atop your cup, at Pho 14 the coffee comes all ready to go, complete with crushed ice. This makes the coffee that much more refreshing and less messy. I always spill a little on the table as I assemble my drink. No spillage here…
Then we moved onto the appetizer: Cha Gio Chay (vegetarian eggrolls) with sweet chili or fish sauce. These are sensational!! The crust is crisp, the veggies fresh and for a fried eggroll, they are not greasy at all but rather lightly crunchy. In fact, after we devoured our order, my daughter was greedily picking the crumbs off the plate and licking her fingers. For dipping, I prefer the fish sauce. Here at Pho 14, they make the fish sauce in house, and it is always delightfully aromatic and slightly sweet.
However, while the eggrolls are great, my favorite appetizer is the Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepes). When I am at Pho 14 without my vegetarian daughter, this is the app I get. The crepe takes about 20 minutes to cook, and if you have the time, it is worth the wait. In addition to being stuffed with shrimp and bean sprouts, you also get your choice of chicken or pork. And, it comes with all sorts of veggie accoutrements, like Thai basil, lettuce leaves, pickled carrots and radishes with fish sauce. The best way to eat these is to cut off small pieces and wrap’em in a lettuce leaf with all the other veggies and fish sauce.
While the pho at Pho 14 is exceptional with tender cuts of meat and a flavorful broth, we tend to order bun more times than not.
Iced coffee with condensed milk
And, as the summer months move in, bun becomes a much more satisfying and invigorating dish. For entrees on this trip, I ordered the Bun Bo Nuong (grilled pork vermicelli) and my daughter ordered the Bun Chay (vegetarian vermicelli with tofu). Both were fantastic. The veggies fresh, crisp and plentiful and the pork tender and chewy with the perfect amount of char, both my daughter and I were very happy.
In addition to the food, the atmosphere at Pho 14 is pretty awesome as well. The staff is always nice and attentive, and you are encouraged to linger and enjoy the food as with many ethnic restaurants. Sienna and I have no problem heading over to Pho 14 and lingering for a good hour as we nosh on great food and vent about the trials of middle school.
Much like many popular spots, the wait can be an issue at Pho 14. Our strategy is to go late midday, after the lunchtime rush and before the supper rush. When we have gone on a weekend night, the line can be long, especially during the winter. Because as the sign on the door indicates, the pho inside can be and is addictive.
1436 Park Rd.
Washington, DC 20010