We now return to our regularly scheduled (or in the current situation not so regularly scheduled) blog. I have been undergoing some dietary changes since March 10th and have lost 20 pounds and significantly changed my palate and portion sizes. I have been eating at home more often and eating more smaller meals. It also doesn’t help that money is tight, and I have to watch my voluntary spending. Expensive meals just aren’t in the cards at the moment. I will still try to go out, but I can’t promise it will be as regular as it has been in the past. Maybe more like once a month instead of twice a month. I’ll try to write up some of my older backlog of photos/visits to make up for it. I try to visit a restaurant at least twice before blogging about it, but that might not always happen. Anyway…
There’s a new pho place in town. The restaurant takes the spot of Szechuan Café, which recently closed in the back of Asia Plaza in Asiatown (E. 30th between Payne & Superior – in the plaza with Park to Shop) and opened in February 2023. The parking lot there is always bustling but has plenty of free parking. I’ve managed to park close to the entrance twice now. I can’t say how busy it is on the weekend though. The dining area itself is bright, airy and clean.
It serves a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes, from spring and summer rolls to broken rice and cold or stir-fried rice noodles, ramen, phos and soups, and a half dozen choices of banh mi, including a vegetarian version. In fact, there are eight different versions of pho, including two assembled with chicken broth and chicken meat. The restaurant also serves the spicy beef noodle soup known as bun bo hue or various fried rice dishes. You can choose from grilled pork, grilled shrimp and grilled chicken or a combination of them as well as lots of choices for vegetarians. The banh mi can be made of grilled meat, ham or BBQ pork or a combination.
My friends gathered here shortly after it opened, and some of them brought their mothers who had never had Vietnamese food or were at least not very well-versed in it. I recommended the broken rice and pork chop to one of the mothers, so she ordered the House Special Rice Plate (C5 Cơm Đặc Biệt) because she liked the photo, and she loved it. It features a combination of pork chop, shredded pork, pork cake, fried egg, cucumber, tomato, and broken rice. She especially enjoyed the pork cake.
The service at Pho Sunshine was also excellent. Our server was super personable as well as friendly and attentive and made sure that we had everything we needed throughout our meal. We kept him on his toes but made sure he was well-compensated for it.
I started off by ordering honeydew smoothie. It was delicious. I miss the honeydew smoothie at Panera.
I then split the summer rolls with one of the mothers so we could enjoy both and not have to decide. We ordered one order with grilled pork and one order with pork and shrimp. We both agreed that the shrimp one was superior. Probably due to the peanut dipping sauce. Love that dipping sauce!
I have several things I enjoy at Vietnamese restaurants, and I ordered all of them on the first visit. In addition to the summer rolls, I ordered a grilled pork banh mi, which was absolutely delicious, as well as a pho and a vermicelli bowl.
The bahn mi I chose (A10 Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng) was chock full of grilled pork, pickled veggies and a deliciously light sauce. The French bread has a nice crust, and they use a good amount of meat and veg fillings. I picked off the two jalapenos, but didn’t tell them to hold them because I like the subtle juice that is left on the bread, but not the crunchy pepper itself. I honestly couldn’t wait to go back and order it again and went to lunch a week or so later.
I ordered the pho with rare beef (Pho Dac Biet). I wasn’t in the mood for fatty brisket and don’t like the texture of pho meatballs. The pho came out piping hot with a little cap of raw beef peeking out. I added the mung beans and basil leaves and gave it a deft squeeze of lime. The beef was tender and juicy, the noodles were perfectly cooked, and it had a deliciously savory broth. The broth was so good that I didn’t need to add any sriracha or hoisin to it, like I usually do. I enjoyed as much as I could and packed the rest up to go. One of my fellow diners taught me the trick of packing up the noodles separate from the broth so the noodles don’t disintegrate.
I also ordered a vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and spring rolls (B7 Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò) as well on my first visit. I poured the delicious fish sauce dressing over a small portion of the veggies and really enjoyed the freshness and lightness of the dish. I added the rest when I ate it for lunch the next day so it didn’t get soggy.
I got lots of to go boxes and enjoyed my meals for the next few days. When I returned at lunch a few weeks later I ordered the exact same things, except this time I ordered an iced Vietnamese coffee and didn’t get a vermicelli bowl. The visit was just as good, and the server was attentive since I was sitting by myself and only a few tables were occupied.
I look forward to my next visit. I’m intrigued by the Bún Riêu Crab Vermicelli Noodle Soup (B15), which is a combination of pork, shrimp, crab meatballs, and vermicelli noodles in tomato soup. And I’m craving a grilled pork bahn mi – although maybe I’ll try it with grilled shrimp or grilled chicken this time. And has anyone tried Bánh Mì Xíu Mại – the Shumai Sandwich (2 meatballs)? I’m curious what shumai meatballs served in tomato sauce with French bread on the side is like. Lots of good choices to choose from – and vegetarians have a full page of choices.
2999 Payne Avenue, Suite 142
Cleveland, OH 44114