Note: this place can be hard to park. Just remember that they have a parking lot. There is a giant red arrow painted on the side when you drive past the restaurant.
After my plans were canceled on Wednesday, I decided to look up meetup for stuff to do. I go with a group of “Wild Diners” to eat at really cool restaurants some times and they happened to have had an event at Pho King Kitchen. A new restaurant that was first a food truck.
So I drove there, ended up an hour late but people still stayed with me.
One of the best conversations I’ve had that night was talking about the name of the restaurant. one of our friends asked her son how to pronounce “Pho King”.. and you should know how that went.
After most of my dish was done, the owner came up to us and said how was the food. I began to ask him a good amount of questions and we got to talking. I got the courage to talk about the blog and he gave me a taco. Score!
As always, I will explain what I ate in pretty good detail and be objective as possible when it comes to writing these reviews. Enjoy!
Being able to talk to the owners and found that they have a very innovative mindset and love bold flavors. Form their menu and from tasting their dishes, they love to experiment and they really love bold flavors. They told me they inherited an old rotating pizza oven where they braise their meat for hours making their meat have the right amount of crunch and the right amount of soft, gelatinously flavor.
I tried 5 dishes while there. The standard pho, one of the Asian fusion burritos, their plantain chips, a little bit of mousse and while chatting with the owner, convinced him to have me try one of his awesome tacos.
Here’s a description of what I ate.
Pho with Pork – In Northern California, I’ve noticed that no matter where I go, all of the pho tastes the same. It’s like there’s a standard idea of what pho is and the Vietnamese mafia controls it. Outside of very Asian dense populations, pho starts to variate and it becomes either decent, or horrible. I know, it’s blasphemous to put any protein besides beef in pho but this isn’t supposed to be authentic, I told them what was the best combo to get and this was my response.
Pho King has good pho but it is not like regular Vietnamese pho and that’s ok. I feel the broth is a bit thicker and richer but the drawback is that it’s a bit salty in my taste. I guess you can say you get more bang for your buck for the soup. Other than that, this is a hearty bowl of noodles. The little greens they serve have thai basil, jalapenos, bean sprouts, lime and a new garnish I’ve never seen before: red cabbage. However, the cabbage actually gives the final dish a very nice purple color and contrasts very well with the green, brown and white.
Burrito Phorrito– This restaurant has two burritos that are based off of popular Vietnamese dishes: Banh Mi and Phorrito. I took the latter which involves stir fried vegetables, pickled vegetables, melted cheese, your meat of choice (I chose brisket) and rice wrapped in a flour tortilla. This was a very satisfying burrito and you get all sorts of crazy flavors (sour, salty, meaty, umami, pickled, refreshing) and texture (cheesy, fork-tender, rustic, fatty,) combinations. I noticed that the burrito has yellow pickled cauliflower. This stuff reminds me a lot of daikon radishes, which adds another layer of complexity to the burrito.
My only thing I would suggest in this burrito is cut the meat smaller as I got really big chunks in mine and I feel it would be more beneficial cutting it into cubes.
Plantains with Spicy Mango Sauce – Deep fried plantain chips served with a spicy mango sauce. To be honest, eating them separately was alright, but when you combine the two, the flavors mesh extremely well. Again, you have such contrasting textures and flavors between the crunchy, sweet plantains and the spicy, sweet and creamy mango sauce. These are a great party snack appetizers to buy for your table and the presentation’s pretty nice. It’s in a nice little queso dish.
Chocolate Mousse – Only had a bite from this and it was leftovers from somewhere else. Everyone described the mouse as really rich.
Taco with Pork shoulder and pickled green apple toppings – After conversing with the owner for a little bit, I told him about this blog, and how I’m really in to food. He went into the kitchen and pulled out a glorious taco for me to try. The great thing about tacos is that good ones are simple and you can really appreciate the flavors when it comes to eating a taco. The meat had a perfectly seasoned crunch and soft, tender flesh and the pickeled apples on top complements the pork (the old combo pork chops and apples sauce resonated here). I really like to thank the owner Matt for this taco!
Pho King’s atmosphere reminds me of a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant I stopped by in the middle of southern California. The bright red and blue décor really brings out a rustic quality. However, Pho Kings a pretty hip joint too with plenty of pop art and urban decor. The fountain outside the joint and some of the outside walls makes the place a bit deceptive but going inside is where the magic happens.
You order your food and then they call your order on their little window where you go and get your food or if the cashier has time, they can bring it toward you. I think their serving style is supposed to be pretty much like a food truck except in a store and that works well in most cases. It wasn’t super crowded when I got there so I don’t know if they happen to change the way they do things when it gets more crowded.
An item on the menu costs around $8-10 dollars and then they charge for the protein which ranges from $2-$3 dollars. Think of the protein like Chipotle, you have beef, chicken, pork, tofu, and shrimp as your options that can be put into the meat. I’m a sucker for slow cooked pork and beef so I got that for the pho and burrito respectively.
The fried plantains are pretty cheap and well worth the price.
A pretty baller menu of appetizers (dumplings of all unique flavors) and five very unique main courses. Because you can customize your meat, the possibilities increase even more.
If you are a traditionalist who likes simple flavors, I feel like the pho with brisket is the best to try out. If you are someone adventurous who wants a crazy flavor experience, go with the burrito or tacos.
And the chef is just getting started. He told me big plans for this place and he wants to keep on expanding the menu.
Pho King also serves an assortment of beers for your enjoyment. Though I didn’t feel like having a beer today, they have all sorts of craft and draft beers for everyone to enjoy.
If you like the food truck, you’ll love the brick-and-mortar because they have all of your favorite foods, better silverware, free water and of course, alcohol (not free).
I find the items on the menu very creative and very bold in flavor. If you’re adventurous and love Asian fusion food, I would recommend this place.