As the season changes and the temperature drops, here's a great way to warm yourself up from your head to your toes - it's pho!
Pho is a soothing Vietnamese soup unlike any other. The dish features vermicelli (rice noodles) and delectable broth with thinly sliced meat, or tofu and vegetables.
Life Pho, located in Severna Park, has some of the most flavorful pho around. My family has dined at various Vietnamese restaurants, and this is our favorite pho in the area.
Located on Ritchie Highway, the restaurant is simple, small and cozy. The space features wooden tables and chairs, TVs quietly playing in the background and a relaxed vibe. The wait staff is friendly and efficient.
My companion and I have often lunched here or called for carryout. It's usually a busy place, which can say a lot about a restaurant.
We visited on a cool and rainy afternoon. The little restaurant felt comfortable. We ordered cold Vietnamese coffee, and I was pleasantly surprised with the unique taste of this creamy drink with a touch of chocolate and perhaps vanilla and cardamom or cinnamon.
For an appetizer, we picked goi cuon — summer rolls, also known as salad rolls due to the various vegetables tucked inside transparent rice paper — carrots, cucumber, radishes and vermicelli noodles. We chose ours with thinly sliced beef. These little gems were a cornucopia of color and texture. I approved and ate half of one while my companion loved them and gobbled them up. A peanut sauce for dipping provided a perfect contrast.
After the rolls, we ordered beef broth pho with tofu and bun/com with grilled shrimp.
The large bowl of pho was steaming hot with tender carrots, broccoli, and rice noodles. A side dish of veggies included bean sprouts (giving a satisfying crunch), basil leaves, jalapeños for a spicy pop, and lime wedges to squeeze on top for some zest. I like my meals with less heat, so I add more sprouts and basil, and my companion plops in most of the jalapeños and adds sriracha sauce so it's as hot as possible. That's the beauty of pho - you can prepare it the way you'd like. The pho's broth is the star — the flavor is always bold and satisfying.
Bun/com was a choice of noodles or rice, and I picked the noodles. It's a bit like pho, but fish sauce replaces the broth. The dish included lettuce, cucumbers, pickled carrots and radishes, cilantro, fried red onions and tender shrimp. Add the fish sauce and voila — yum! This was more of a sweet and spicy dish, and it was surprisingly delightful.
The cost came to about $50 – which is reasonable. All of the servings were plentiful, and we left feeling filled and satisfied.
Keep this restaurant in mind. It's great year-round, but especially when there's a chill in the air!