Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Super Pho

(Update on 12/19/11: I received word that the downtown Salem Super Pho location has closed. The Lancaster (Salem) location is still open, to my knowledge)

Super Pho has two locations in Salem, Oregon. A friend and I went to the newer downtown Salem location on State Street (the other being on Lancaster Drive NE). It's where the old Soba restaurant used to be, right next to The Brick.

The inside of Super Pho is practically unchanged from the time Soba occupied the place. Fairly dim lighting. with Asian-influenced art decorating the walls. We arrived around 1 p.m. and took a seat around the middle of the restaurant. A few people had just left after finishing their meal, and we remained the only customers in Super Pho at the time.

To start, my friend got a Vietnamese iced milk coffee ($2.75), and we both split some salad rolls ($3.95). The salad rolls are "fresh rice paper rolls with shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, mixed lettuce, served with side of peanut sauce."

Vietnamese iced coffee w/milk (a lighter tan color than a black coffee, obviously)
Salad rolls with peanut sauce
I had a taste of the iced coffee, and I enjoyed the robust flavor. The milk gave the drink a more pleasant tan color and nicely sweetened things up on the palate. A wonderful drink, even on a cool day.

The salad rolls were light and perfectly wrapped. I could taste the pork and the shrimp, neither overpowered the other. The noodles and greens brought great texture contrast. But the warm peanut sauce really sent this one over the top. Definitely a dish I could eat over and over again. In fact, just send me the peanut sauce to put on many of my entrees, and I'd be happy.

Then, our main courses. My friend got the #6: a large pho with round steak, flank, fatty brisket, tripe, tendon, and meatballs ($7.95). I got a #40: chicken stir fried with onion, green onion, jalapenos, and house special curry sauce, served with white rice, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and side of soup ($8.95).

#6: Large pho w/round steak, flank, fatty brisket, tripe, tendon, and meatballs
(Super Pho)
A shot with the side of basil, bean sprouts, lime, and jalapeno
My soup
#40: Chicken stir fried w/onions, green onions, jalapenos, and house special curry sauce,
served with white rice, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber

My friend really enjoyed his pho. There was so much of it, he took home about half, and I'm sure he noshed on it for the next couple of meals.

My soup was very refreshing, a great pre-main course. I really liked the presentation on my chicken curry dish. They likely used a ring mold to create a cylindrical scoop of rice in the middle of the plate, placed the hearty curry on the right-hand side, then, in a yin-yang moment, put the light vegetable slices on the left side. It was a pleasant curry, not spicy. The pieces of chicken were juicy and tender, but the vegetables had mostly lost their crunch and vibrant color, so I wouldn't necessarily call it an extremely successful stir fry on that front.  After adding sriracha and some sambal oelek, I was a happy camper. And for the heck of it, I ate the rice with some more sriracha, sambal, and hoisin sauce.

Super Pho also has a vegetarian menu and over 30 flavors of Boba (bubble tea). Their house fried rice (#37) is another specialty item that sounds appealing.

I had a nice experience at Super Pho. Check them out for yourself! 7.5/10

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