Although dozens of bustling food stalls fill the open space of Krog Street Market with scents from all across the globe, Pho Nam brings the mouth-watering aromas of authentic Vietnamese cuisine to the renovated warehouse space.
Pho Nam offers a relatively simple menu of Vietnamese basics: six pho options, five vermicelli choices, banh mi sandwiches and appetizers such as spring rolls and pancakes. Though all pho soups are made with chicken broth, vegetarians can opt for a vermicelli bowl with tofu.
At the waiter’s recommendation, I ordered grilled shrimp vermicelli with crispy egg rolls. The dish contained myriad flavors, and the best part was by far the spring rolls, which had been chopped up and mixed throughout the bowl. The intense, savory flavor of the rolls contrasted well with the freshness of the noodles and the chopped lettuce and carrots.
My friends ordered beef pho and chicken pho, but the menu also offers more unorthodox options like meatball pho and brisket. The warm broth swirled with onions, noodles and meat and came with a plastic bag containing an assortment of bean sprouts, herbs and lime. My friends dressed their pho with individualized portions of herbs, hoisin and sriracha. The piping-hot pho provided a comforting meal with an excellent broth-to-noodle ratio.
Fifteen barstools line the clean counter at Pho Nam, and patrons can order at the cash register before taking their seats. Although the server claimed that our food would arrive in 10 minutes, we received it within a fraction of his prediction. The staff was very friendly, and were happy to recommend dishes and explain the menu to the novices in our group who had never tried pho.
Unlike other pho restaurants, Pho Nam provides manageable portions of both pho and vermicelli. My friends joked that they would not feel terrible about themselves if they finished their dishes, but some managed to bring back leftovers.
Despite the wide menu, Pho Nam offers limited beverage options. Canned soda replaces a traditional soda fountain, but the restaurant does offer tea and Vietnamese coffees, such as cafe sua da, a strong iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk.
While Pho Nam’s food was delicious, the restaurant did not seem to value sustainability. The plastic spoons, single-use bowls and plastic bags felt unnecessary given that we ate at the restaurant’s counter, where they could have easily served us in reusable dishes. I felt guilty when clearing my plate, dumping the unused cilantro into the trash.
The pho dishes are slightly more expensive than at other restaurants, with prices ranging from $10.50 to $14.50, but they fit in with pricing at Krog Street Market’s other venues.
Despite the restaurant’s reliance on plastic dishware and cutlery, Pho Nam proves, with fresh ingredients and reasonable portions, that its dishes deserve a spot at Krog Street Market.