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Special Bonus: Pho
Blast San Francisco Bureau


Pho reviews!

Ratings Key: 4 = Excellent, 3 = Good, 2 = Okay, 1 = Fair, 0 = Awful Price: $ = Inexpensive, $$ = Moderate, $$$= Expensive, $$$$ = Very Expensive


Blast San Francisco Bureau

Posted May 5, 1997

Casino San Pablo
13255 San Pablo Avenue
San Pablo, Calif.
+1 (510) 215-7888

Food $
Service $$
Price $$$
Atmosphere $

Now you may ask, pho at a Casino? That was my question when my roommate suggested a new pho place to try. I was very skeptical of food at the casino, but my roommate assured me that the food was not bad. We got to the casino and I felt the urge to gamble rather than eat, but I limited my budget and was determined to stay focused on eating pho (I ended up losing $40 that night gambling).

We decided to eat in the restaurant instead of at the bar. But even though the menu was the same, the restaurant food cost $1 more. I inquired about this and was told that the bar was considered part of the casino and for gamblers, so the casino wanted to make the food affordable.

Nonetheless, the restaurant was very good, so sometimes people just go to the casino for food. I didn't really buy into this, but I went along. I scanned the menu for pho, but I didn't see it. What I found was a special noodle soup under the Vietnamese food section. I guessed it was pho. The menu has a wide assortment of ethnic food, mostly Asian. I ordered the special noodle soup and hot wings. A strange combination, perhaps, but it was a strange place for pho. The hot wings were OK. Just the normal, run-of-the-mill hot wings. The special noodle soup was OK, too. It really wasn't pho, but more of a noodle soup. It didn't come with the raw sprouts, the mint leaves, the lime and there wasn't hot chili sauce available. Overall, I wasn't very impressed. And I surely wasn't impressed by the casino. Most the time I was there, one of the pit bosses kept asking me to play Chinese poker (sup som jerng). I declined since the stakes could get pretty high.

Posted Feb. 18, 1997

Da Nang
905 San Pablo Ave., Albany, Calif.
Overall: 1
Food: 1
Service: 1
Atmosphere: 1
Prices: $$


Da Nang in Albany is one of those restaurants that is on a busy street, so parking may be a hassle. If you can't find parking, then it's best just to keep driving on. We walked in and were seated right away. The restaurant was not very busy, so we expected to have prompt service. After we were seated, the waiter disappeared. We waited a few minutes before he came back to take our order. The eggrolls looked good, so we decided to try those out. It ran $6 for an order of six, but was not worth the price. The eggrolls were good, actually the highlight to our meal. I had ordered an ice coffee with condensed milk (I usually have one with pho) and the waiter forgot the ice. I did not order my usual pho (with tripe and rare beef), but instead tried the pho with pork, imitation crab and shrimp. That was a mistake, it was very bland, more like something I would make at home. My roommate had the beef ball pho and had the same comment. My other roommate tried the curry, which was extremely runny and did not look very appetizing. My biggest complaint was their "large" bowl, it was the size of a small bowl at most other Vietnamese restaurants.

The atmosphere was very poor. The waiter tried to put on some music when we got to the restaurant, some bad '80s music. This was one of the worst Vietnamese restaurants that I've eaten at, all things considered.

Posted Feb. 18, 1997

Pho Hoa-Thai
12860 San Pablo Ave., Richmond, Calif.
Overall: 3
Food: 3.5
Service: 3
Atmosphere: 2
Price: $


This is perhaps one of my favorite restaurants to eat pho at in the East Bay. The food is relatively cheap, it runs me less than $6 for pho and coffee. I usually go with the Tai Sak, the traditional pho with rare steak and tripe. The sprouts, lime, jalapeno peppers and mint leaves are fresh and they give a good size helping. The spring rolls are good and reasonably priced, $2.75 for an order of three. The service is quick and friendly. The coffee is pretty good as well. The only complaint I would have is with the layout. The main part of the restaurant is an add on, and usually cold. They turn on the heater when there are customers there, but on occasion, I've had to leave on my jacket while waiting for food.

The X-large bowls are huge. I have trouble finishing one by myself. The rest of the menu looks pretty good and fairly priced, but my focus is with pho and this restaurant definitely gets the thumbs up.


Posted Feb. 18, 1997

Pho Hoa
46 Harvard Ave.
Allston, Mass.
Overall: 4
Food: 4
Service: 3
Atmosphere: 4
Price: $


This restaurant wasn't exactly our first choice. But the king-sized replica of a Boston Globe review glued to the front window raved about its excellent food. Besides, it was freezing outside, about 20 degrees, and this joint was only half a block from our parked car. So we walked in, forgetting about the hole-in-the wall that lured us to this Boston suburb in the first place.

It was obvious that this was a new restaurant. Everything looked new -- the carpeting, the tables, the chairs. We ordered spring rolls as an appetizer and pho with everything on it -- my friend a large, mine's an extra large.

Minutes later, the spring rolls arrived. But they tasted kind of bland. So we dipped it in the mystery sauce and the rolls, large and thick, were exquisite. Then the pho came. We squirted our steaming bowls full of plum and hot sauce, sprinkled in the mint leaves and bean sprouts, and attacked. The tripe, various beef, and noodles were delicious. Two nose blows and 20 minutes later, I was done. Neither of us could finish, leaving strains of noodles swirling in the brownish soup as we wiped our sweating brows.

After the meal, I propped open the tea pot lid -- the international sign of tea pot emptiness -- and waited 10 minutes until our waiter noticed and filled it back up. Happy and full and only $16 poorer, we leisurely strolled to the car. The meal was so awesome, we didn't notice that the weather had gotten even colder.