Monday, January 19, 2015

(A) Phở (for) All Seasons.

A few months ago, I was introduced to Phở All Seasons, a little mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant at 1311 E. Euclid Ave. Decades ago I knew the location as a Happy Joe's Pizza & Ice Cream franchise.

Appetizers at Phở All Seasons run the gamut from spring rolls, to chicken wings, calamari, pot stickers, and lettuce wraps. The Spring Rolls [below left] are huge, filled with vermicelli, lettuce, fresh basil leaves, bean sprouts, and a choice of meats or seafood. Crispy fried Egg Rolls [below center] come with shrimp, pork, mushroom, and taro; vegetarian rolls are an option. The best of both comes packaged as the Four Seasons Roll [below right], a combination of crispy egg roll tucked inside a spring roll. This appetizer offers several constrasts: both textures crispy and chewy, and meats paired with fresh vegetables. Dipping sauces include a typical sweet and sour sauce served with the egg rolls, and a choice of peanut sauce or house viniagrette for the spring rolls. The latter is offered with the Four Seasons Roll.

Pot Stickers (Ha Cao), prepared pan-fried or steamed, offer ground pork wrapped in wonton with a sesame ginger soy sauce for dipping. The pan-fried variety are excellent! I can easily make a meal from just rolls and pot stickers alone.

My dining companion and I have eaten here enough to have our prefered entrées. My usual go to is the Spring Bowl (Bun) [below left], rice vermicelli noodles with fresh mint, sliced cucumber, crushed peanut, scallion, and crispy egg rolls, with choice of meat, seafood, or in this instance, tofu with carrot, mushroom, pea pod, and seasonal vegetables. Its quite toothsome! They prefer the Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac) [below right], the Vietnamese equivalent of meat and potatoes. Cubes of beef are tossed with sweet bell pepper, onion, mushroom, and Roma tomato. Paired with a choice of white or fried rice, its equal to the most hardy appetite.

The comforting Won Ton Egg Noodle Soup (Mi Hoanh Thanh) [below left] features barbeque pork won tons and egg noodles in a clear broth. Its a good soup for a cold winter's night. Combination Fried Rice (Com Chien Chau) [below right] comes with mixed vegetables, Chinese sausage, barbeque pork, and shrimp. Its not a light dish, but none the less delicious. Shaking Beef, Won Ton Egg Noodle Soup, and Combination Fried Rice all come topped with cilantro and green onions. As for classic Vietnamese dishes such as the Phở and Banh Mi (sandwich), these remain to be enjoyed on future visits.

Beverages at Phở All Seasons include the usual assortment of soft drinks, iced and hot tea, bubble teas, and coffee. My favorite, the Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da), pairing French press coffee with a healthy dose of condensed milk, is sweet and rich. Served either hot or over ice, its a heady brew indeed!

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