Friday, February 1, 2013

Pho for the Win: Pho 14

It's hard not to get punny when writing a review of pho places but I'll try to limit it to the title of this post. I've never had non-veg pho, so I'm no expert on how pho should taste traditionally. Devoted purists would probably have a beef with veggie pho. But the chay option works for me, when it's vegan. (Warning: sometimes the chay isn't even vegetarian. Check the broth. I've been burned once before, namely at Pho DC in Chinatown.) Anyway, real pho addicts would probably stick with suburban pho spots for authenticity and affordability.
Pho Chay
Now with two locations, Pho 14 is the winning veggie pho option in the district. I recently visited their new location in Adams Morgan at 1773 Columbia Rd NW. It is a large space, rather chilly on the night my boyfriend and I visited. Perhaps that encourages diners to order extra large bowls? That's what I did. Next time I will probably downsize to a regular large size. Because the pho was super-sized to the brim, filled with tofu, veggies, mushrooms, and noodles. My boyfriend though the broth was too bland. I found it subtle and slightly fruity. However the toppings plate with lime wedges, fresh basil, jalapenos, and sprouts helped add more flavors. And I added Sriracha, which is readily available on all the tables, along with hoisin. 
Pho toppings
We also tried the bahn mi, which wasn't much to write home about, but had a chay version. Pho 14 seems to be more about the pho than their other Vietnamese fare. I'll have to revisit their Columbia Heights location at 1436 Park Rd NW to compare the dining atmospheres.The Admo location was surprisingly uncrowded with mood lighting and quick, attentive service. No alcohol.  
Bahn Mi Chay

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