Pho Cuong: Pho alternatives
It may be a bazillion degrees outside, but that doesn’t stop many of us from enjoying a nice, steaming bowl of our favorite soup — Pho. Now, if you’re new to Pho or if you haven’t ever heard of Pho, you should probably check out our previous review of Pho Lien Hoa which will give you a little primer on the subject and convince you why you need to care about this Vietnamese specialty that we’re so abundantly blessed with here in Oklahoma City.
But if you’re already a Pho devotee like us, then perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit. After all, that 100th bowl of the P11 at Pho Lien Hoa, while tasty, can start to loose it’s luster. So, let’s widen our Pho landscape. We have the answers for you. Here are a couple of Pho alternatives to try at Pho Cuong.
#39, aka “Banh Tam Tom Thit Nuong” is what I order most every time I go here. It consists of thick vermicelli noodles over a bed of romaine, pan-fried shallots, cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts and cucumbers topped with grilled shrimp and pork. It comes with coconut syrup and diluted fish sauce on the side. Mix all that together and you get something delicious and healthy for just $6.25. If you want to spice things up a bit, try adding a few squirts of Sriracha (a.k.a. rooster) sauce.
Now the #39 is not so much a soup, so it can really give you some nice variety in your Pho shop visits. However, if you still want a soup but crave something out of the ordinary, Pho Cuong offers the #28 “Bun Bo Hue” ($6.50). Tim tried this once and had this to say about it:
“My Vietnamese friends tend to get the Bun Bo Hue and one told me this was the thing to get at Pho Cuong. I have to say, it is definitely a departure from the standard Pho. It is very spicy and the broth is delicious. However, there are some items floating in this soup that I didn’t recognize, but no matter. Just eat them up and enjoy!”
Although Pho Cuong offers some nice Pho alternatives like #39 and #28, they also have standard Pho, of course. They even nicely break up their Pho menu into sections based on how “experienced” you are with Pho dining. Section one, “for the beginners,” has items #1-#4 which include the steak/brisket Pho (#2) that would be comparable to Pho Hoa’s P11. The menu then progresses to sections titled “A little bit of fat?” and “The Adventurer’s Choice” where you’ll find all of your tripes and tendons and what nots. I think this menu layout is pretty clever and really handy for people who are just getting started, so beginners have nothing to fear at Pho Cuong.
I have tried some of these standard Pho options here and will say that they are pretty much on par with Pho Lien Hoa. Honestly, I think Pho Cuong’s cuts of meat might be of better quality. However, the portions seemed a bit smaller so I guess it’s kind of a wash. While I believe Pho Lien Hoa will likely always retain its top status in the OKC Pho world, and so we are obliged to compare most other Pho Houses to them.
Pho Cuong is small, cozy, and full of life on Sunday afternoons. I’ve never had to wait to get seats even at 12pm on weekends unlike Pho Lien Hoa which can be a madhouse sometimes. It is important to note that Pho Cuong accepts credit cards, which gives it a pretty major advantage over Pho Lien Hoa, which is still cash and check only.
Like most Vietnamese restaurants, Pho Cuong also sells a nice assortment of fresh fruit smoothies ($3.25). If you’re feeling a bit daring, go and try the avocado or durian/jackfruit smoothies.
Overall, Pho Cuong is another great Pho House in the Asian District of Oklahoma City. Their quality Pho and their tasty alternatives to the standard are both great reasons to check them out. If you’ve tried Pho Cuong, let us know what you think in the comments.