Updated: May 21, 2015
Reviews: Vietnamese Pho Restaurants in PortlandI read a lot of how Portlanders are having a hard time finding an authentic Vietnamese restaurant that will serve them up a delicious bowl of pho. Some of you may wonder what pho is. Pho is a vietnamese noodle soup that has either beef or chicken in it with lots of ingredients like onions, scallions, lime, chili, bean sprouts, basil and saw leaves. The bowl of steaming soup is delivered to your table with only a few of the ingredients actually in the bowl. Most of the extras you can add if you want them. I love to get out the Sriracha, hot chili sauce, and pour it into the soup to make it even better, but everyone is different. No matter what, the key element to any good pho is the broth and most reviews I read online agree to that fact. I had never had pho until about 10 years ago when I was living in the Bay Area and my wife (she's Korean) took me to the Pho place in Cupertino along Saratoga-Sunnyvale road next to the Britannia Arms pub. It's the chain of Pho Hoa and gets decent ratings. I was hooked on the stuff and since then I've only found most pho places to be even better. I currently reside up in Portland and have found several pho restaurants that are worth a try.
You can do some research online and see what others have posted on sites like Citysearch, Yelp, Hewnandhammered.com, and Chowhound.chow.com but I feel like the only way to know which pho restaurant is "the best" is to get out and try them yourselves. There are about 4 or 5 spots that are definitely on the A list and I'm sure there are more popping up each month as the Vietnamese community in Oregon continues to grow. Pho Van is certainly a reputable Vietnamese restaurant (4 of them) in the Portland region. This is a family run business that originally started in 1992 with their first restaurant on NE 82nd and Glisan. They have other locations around the Portland metro area in the Beavertown Town Square, in the Hawthorne District (3404 SE Hawthorne Blvd, and in the Pearl District at a place called Silk which is at 1012 NW Glisan St. I went to Silk in the Pearl before it was silk and that's when I knew I had found a quality pho restaurant in Portland. Although the interior of the restaurant has changed at Silk, the food is still excellent but pricey ($25 for 2 for lunch). The other locations are always crowded and very popular amongst the locals. The pho has consistently, delicious broth that will leave you wanting more. Anyone that knows me understands that I don't like hot soups at all but somehow the flavors with Vietnamese pho are so good that I keep coming back for more. We have tried making the broth at home but my wife just can't get it right so we continue to go out for instead. Pho Jasmine is located at 714 N. Killingsworth Ct in Portland and considered another locals "favorite spot". It's not the newest place on earth, but it offers up great tasting pho and has a wonderful wait staff. Some of the reviews we found online note that vegetarians can delight here as well since they offer a vegetarian broth. A more recent trip took me across the Willamette River and over into the quaint town of Sellwood just southeast of the city. Here I was introduced to Mekong. Mekong Vietnamese Grill is located on Southeast 13th at the corner of Miller. Their Pho had a slightly different broth than ones I'm used to, but the overall flavors were still excellent and I would go back again for lunch or dinner. It's a small place with limited seating, although they had one big communal table that might be fun with a bunch of co-workers or family members. Prices were fair at about $7 for a good sized bowl of Vietnamese pho. The one thing I enjoy about going out to eat pho is that you can have it for lunch or dinner and it's always satisfying. Some day I look forward to visiting Vietnam and trying their authentic pho which is considered the best in the world.