Pho-Bulous: trendy, suburban Pho and more
Pho-Bulous is located at 3409 S. Broadway in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City (map).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if you live in OKC and haven’t ever eaten Pho, you are truly not taking advantage of your surroundings. Our city is blessed with a large Vietnamese population and a thriving Asian District and to miss out one of this culture’s great offerings is a shame. At my office, we’ve started a tradition to ensure we don’t miss out. We call it Pho-riday. Get it? Yeah, it’s a pun inspired by the names of suburban Pho places everywhere.
Here in OKC, we have Asian district Pho and we have suburban Pho. I find it interesting that most suburban Pho places use Pho puns in their names. Pho-Bulous is one of those places. I have been skeptical of suburban Pho for a while now (having been spoiled by the outstanding Asian District places including Pho Lien Hoa), but we finally decided to venture out on Pho-riday and give Pho-Bulous a try.
I had heard good things about Pho-Bulous from many of our readers over the past year, ever since I posted my article on Pho Lien Hoa. One of things I heard is that they didn’t use MSG, which I found very hard to believe. So, I asked the folks at Pho-Bulous and they do, in fact, use MSG. That makes sense as it would be hard to imagine tasty Pho without it. However, I do feel they probably use less MSG than the Asian district places. This results in a lighter, milder-flavored broth that’s less complex that what I’m used to. I needed to add more condiments to the broth to make it really sing, but I have to say, I thought it was very good in its own way. It is definitely a different flavor than the Asian district Pho and I don’t think it will take top billing in my Pho book (that honor still belongs to Pho Lien Hoa, and likely always will), but Pho-Bulous made enough of an impression on me to warrant this review.
Pho-Bulous has several things going for it. First, it’s in a nice location, especially for Edmonites who don’t get downtown often. Also, its spot on the southern end of Broadway makes it convenient even for those in northwest OKC. Second, it has a very nice interior. High ceilings, trendy decor, and clean bathrooms all make for a pleasant experience.
They also have a varied menu with lots of items besides Pho. This is always helpful for dining with people who may or may not want to try the Pho, but on the flip side, it means their focus isn’t wholly on Pho. That’s one of the advantages of Pho Hoa — Pho is pretty much all they do and they do it very well. Still, having some options is good with a larger group or if you are going to make it a regular stop.
As mentioned before, I thought the Pho was notable, though different from Asian District places. The pricing ($5.95 for a small, $6.95 for a large) is only slightly higher than what you get downtown. As usual, a small was plenty big for even those of us with large appetites.
I also tried the “summer rolls” ($2.95 for two) which are Vietnamese-style spring rolls with your choice of grilled beef, chicken or pork. I chose this option because the shrimp rolls were $3.25 for two, which is $1.25 more than I’m used to paying downtown. I liked the grilled meat options, which offered variety from my standard shrimp roll order.
Two of my friends tried the vermicelli dishes ($6.95-$7.50) and weren’t too impressed. On the other hand, our vegetarian dining partner was directed to the Vietnamese stir fry with tofu ($6.75) which he really enjoyed. Oh, and speaking of vegetarians, this place does have several vegetarian dishes, but Pho is not one of them. Despite the fact that the menu offers “Vegetarian Pho” as a lunch special, it is not truly vegetarian as the broth is still the typical beef-based Pho broth. I have yet to find a restaurant in OKC offering true vegetarian Pho.
Bottom line, Pho-Bulous offers a solid, suburban Pho option. It is definitely better than other suburban options I have tried, but its Pho isn’t quite on par with Pho Lien Hoa. Nevertheless, they serve lots of other menu options — some good and some just ok — in a clean, trendy environment. If Edmond is your home base, Pho-Bulous is definitely worth a try.
Let us know what you think about Pho-Bulous in the comments.