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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Daily 10:00am–9:00pm

Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

Far North Austin
8557 Research Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 832-5595
Pho Van
Our pho options are getting better, but this is still a jammin’ soup

In a city full of pho slurping spots, Pho Van’s beefy brew still stands out. We’re fans of the fatty brisket, which is more edible here than at the also-excellent Pho Saigon, but eye round ordered on the side (so you can control how cooked it gets) is paltry by comparison. We used to find the broth an intoxicating medley of clove, star anise, scallion, and marrow, but lately, it seems to have lost a dimension. Regardless, it’s still one of the top three in town.

The hospital-sparse setting is not as homey and comforting as the soup. This is hardly a surprise: it’s that clean, fluorescently lit strip-mall vibe that tends to characterize good Asian eating. Walls of parking-lot-facing tinted windows let in lots of natural light, and it’s not unusual to see people slurping pho at noon on weekends with their sunglasses still on.

As you branch out, things deteriorate. Skip the spring rolls; while their peanut sauce is richer and purer than others around town, the rolls are a flavorless combination of chewy rice paper and noodles. The shrimp inside is bland and with no trace of cilantro or mint. Vermicelli bowls are greasy and also scantly flavored. Banh mi sandwiches suffer from jawbreaker bread and crumbly pâté—for banh mi, go to Tâm Deli.

But did we mention the pho?

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