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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
8.9
4.5
$15
Vietnamese
Casual restaurant

Hours
Daily 9:00am–9:00pm

Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

www.phoansandy.com

Northeast Portland
6236 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland, OR
(503) 281-2990
Pho An Sandy
Great pho and other Vietnamese delights served in a modest relic of a dying strip-mall era

Firing on all cylinders in this ex-fast food spot in the middle of a 1950s suburban strip of Sandy Boulevard is Pho An Sandy. The shape of this straw-colored building suggests it may very well have been a Pizza Hut long ago, but now it reminds us a little of the Lego version of Angkor Wat. Call it guilt by association. Inside, it’s every bit as humble as you’d expect a pho place to be, with slurping audible throughout. Service is friendly and there are some attempts at ambience (a plant), but this ultimately feels like a bright, sterile fast food restaurant.

The magic happens in the bowl. To coax a pho broth into this sort of perfumed state is a true feat. The complex broth gets better with every sip. Get the “Pho An Sandy” and be ready for a sensory barrage: perfectly al dente rice noodles, tender slices of round steak (ask for the “steak on the side,” which means it comes raw, you put it in the broth yourself, and you cook it for just a second, à la fondue), deeply beefy flank steak, fatty brisket, tendon (again, beef flavor squared), tripe (not as challenging as you’d expect), and beef meatballs (delicious), plus the fresh mint and basil and crisp bean sprouts. The total effect is absolutely stunning.

Also good are bo kho (rich beef stew with French bread), rice plates like com dac biet (broken rice with barbecued pork, pork skin, and an egg-pork patty), and other seriously authentic Vietnamese dishes. Crêpes come thin and eggy, with a good crackly sear in places. There really isn’t a bad dish on this entire unassuming menu.

Still, you might ultimately end up back at the pho. It might just be unparalleled in this town.

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