Monday, May 22, 2023

Pho 97 One

Pho 97 One is located on Ka'ahumanu Street, in the Waimalu Plaza Shopping Center, in Aiea, Hawaii.

Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and since my mom loves pho, we decided to try this spot. At least to us, really good pho places are tough to find. Ever since mom's favorite spot, Pho Thinh, closed last spring, we've been searching for a new favorite.

We arrived around 10:45, so they were probably open for just 45 minutes. Still, a few tables were occupied. We were seated very quickly., with menus and water in less than a minute. We got our orders taken maybe a minute later.

The menu has the traditional menu items you'd find at a Vietnamese restaurant, from the spring/summer roll appetizers, to the banh mi and pho entrees.

My mom wanted the #30 Large Pho with Vegetables and Tofu ($13.95). Although my mom is vegetarian, she still wants (and prefers) the beef broth, since to her beef broth generally has more flavor. I got the #25 Large Pho with Rare Steak and Beef Meatballs ($13.95).

We got a full platter of basil, jalapeƱos, sprouts, lemon wedges, and what looked like dandelion leaves.

Not more than five minutes after we got our orders taken, the pho arrived. Probably the quickest service I've seen in a long time.

Mom's pho came with a generous portion of vegetables and tofu. She enjoyed every bite with her usual combination of plum sauce, sriracha, and chili oil. Of course, she also took some basil, sprouts, and lemon.

I thought the pho was very good. A good ratio of noodles to meat, and a healthy portion overall. Since mom is not too big a spicy eater (other than maybe the chili oil), I took all the jalapeƱos this time. I think the broth could have had a bit more flavor, but perhaps coming later in the day will allow the broth to develop more flavor.

Seeing old menu photos online, the food costs have increased post-pandemic, maybe $1 to $2 more than a few years ago.

My dad had their #5 BBQ Chicken Banh Mi ($10.50). He thought the sandwich was good, but maybe could have had a bit more flavor on the chicken.

Total bill came to about $40 for three people. Unfortunately, inflation has led to higher food costs and therefore higher restaurant prices, limiting how frequent we eat out at new spots.

Pho 97 One is a good spot overall. Based on this experience, it might not yet crack the top echelon of pho places I've been to, but it's a solid option. 7.5/10

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