PHO TRUONG - ROCKIN’ VIETNAMESE IN RICHARDSON
by Andrew Chalk
Arapaho Road running west from North Central Expressway bends through an intriguing selection of ethnic food restaurants seemingly adrift from their respective communities. You find a Brazilian steak house, a Persian purveyor of one of the most singular buffet lunches in town, Salvadoran, Peruvian, a modest Chinese, and Pho Truong, Vietnamese cuisine’s fact on the ground where the family that owns it works every day, even down to genuinely enquiring how the food is as you gratefully and enthusiastically chomp on your meal.
We started with Pork and Shrimp Spring Roll ($6.55 for two) which were rendered irresistible by their accompanying peanut sauce. Despite the Pho in the name, that will have to wait for a return visit. It was weeks since I had eaten vermicelli noodles so I succumbed to the Lemongrass Beef on Vermicelli with Peanuts ($16.95). The Moll went for a dish cryptically named Combination ($16.95) under the Vermicelli menu category which turned out to be similar to mine but without the lemongrass and with the addition of a crispy egg roll sliced on the bias into sections. Doused in fish sauce the slithers of beef were so tender that they totally submitted to a soft bite down like an al dente linguine shard. Savor them in the mouth with those crisp peanut chunks, fibrous bean sprouts, and springy vermicelli and you have a dish that fully delivers value based just on its range of textures. Add to that flavors from plants, rice noodles, meat, and fish sauce, and there is a dish to satisfy the most sophisticated palate. “Would you like another bowl of fish sauce?” the owner thoughtfully asks. You bet.
Overall, the menu is broad, but not esoteric. This is a neighborhood restaurant where everyone can find something to love.
Pho Truong is thankfully BYOB. Beer is a solid choice with Vietnamese cuisine, to be sure, but my palate veers to wine. What wine works? It turns out, a lot. We had brought along an Italian white from the Langhe, an area of the Italian region of Piemonte. Langhe is the home of the world famous red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, but they also make some white wine from an obscure grape named Nascetta. I would contend the wines are underappreciated and as a result sell for silly money (low prices), when you can find them. Our Arnal Dorivera 2019 Langhe DOC Nascetta del Comune di Novello retails for $15. It is just a wine made by a cooperative. Such wines are the backbone of much local Italian wine production. The coop quite likely is an important part of the economy of Novello, employing dozens of people and providing the sales of important amounts of the village's wine.
For the non-wine drinker, this wine is medium-high acid, that stops it becoming flabby in the face of rich food. It has a light, but very disciplined, citric (lemon) note in its taste. And it’s the kind of wine about which you would say you prefer it with food, rather than just to sip on its own.
A really solid meal, a good wine, just the thing before the theatre, because Pho Truong is just 150 yards from Richardson Theatre Centre. The current production, Drop Dead, is recommended if you like live comedy. It is kind of Agatha Christie meets Noises Off.
FTC disclosure: I paid for our meal and dined anonymously.