5644 Columbus Square (part of Asian Grocery)
Sunday-Thursday 9am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 9am-10pm
Pho Saigon is the third Vietnamese restaurant in the Columbus Square area. Bearing that in mind, we were pleased to see that they were offering some well turned-out Vietnamese dishes that are not only unique to the immediate area, but to Columbus overall. The restaurant may also hold the honor of being the longest and skinniest restaurant in Columbus – it’s little more than a sliver partitioned off from one side of the Asian Grocery.
The first thing that caught our attention was the half moon cake (banh xeo – pronounced banh SAY-oh) probably better translated as half moon crepe. This is a crispy savory crepe made of rice flour and tinted with tumeric. Apparently the name means ‘sound crepe’ due to the noise the of batter hitting the hot pan. It is filled with pan fried shrimp, pork, onion and peeled mung beans. The crepe is served with a plate of lettuce leaves and herbs such as mint, basil and shiso and accompanied with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce (nuoc mam pha). To eat it you wrap pieces of the crepe in the lettuce leaves and add herbs and the dipping sauce to taste. I loved the flavor and texture combination.
The next unusual dish that caught our eye was chao long (porridge with pork organs). This Saigon specialty is a type of congee – a savory rice soup in which the rice is cooked until it achieves a porridge-like consistency. Pho Saigon’s version was very flavorful and we guessed that it was cooked with broth and not just water. It was topped with cubes of congealed blood, blood sausage, slices of tongue and slices of pork intestine and then garnished with thinly sliced scallions and finely ground black pepper. I promise that it tasted so much better than it sounds, and was actually very comforting. If offal isn’t your thing, you can also order it with duck or chicken. Chao long is served with pieces of light, crispy deep-fried croutons, bean sprouts, and lime wedges.
We also ordered the bun bo hue (Hue style beef noodle soup) which we loved. This beef soup is actually made with pork as well as beef. The broth is seasoned with lemongrass, shrimp sauce and chili, but the heat was fairly mild (you could add more). It was topped with slices of onion and cilantro but came accompanied by a plate of finely sliced banana flowers, sliced water spinach stalks, lime wedges and Thai basil.
Although the market is well established, Saigon Pho opened very recently and the menu is fairly limited. We were very pleased with what we tasted so far. Other menu items are:
Goi quan (Vietnamese spring roll)
Cha Gio (Vietnamese egg roll)
Gio dudu (Vietnamese papaya salad)
Pho Bo (beef noodle soup)
Bun Cha Gio (rice vermicelli with egg rolls)
Canh ga chien (spicy crispy chicken wings)
Goi go sen (lotus root salad)
Com chien (fried rice)
Com suon truong opla (pork chop with egg)
Thanks for the tip off. I wholeheartedly agree with your review, the food is excellent. Quality is good, and the dishes you can get here – particularly the Hue-style pho and the lotus root salad – can’t be found elsewhere in Columbus, Frankly, not that easy to come by in the US, period. Granted it’s been a decade since I was in Hue, but it tasted pretty close to what I remembered. The sliced banana flowers were a particularly nice touch, and a real sign that they’re making no concessions despite being in central Ohio.
A tip to any other readers: there’s not much atmosphere to speak of at Pho Saigon, but who the heck cares, with food this good.
Ate there last night for the first time. It was empty when we went in and only two other people were there. Having said that the food was excellent. I like the banh xeo a lot. The pho was pretty good also. I am not disappointed.
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Been here a few times now. Bun bo hue and papaya salad were excellent . Goi Go Sen was crispy and fresh. They have big-ass spring rolls. Next time I’m going to try the Chao Long and Bahn Xeo. Service is a little on the slow side, but worth the wait. Every time I’ve gone (I usually try for late lunch times) they’ve been empty…hopefully more people try this spot out so it doesn’t go out of business.
It has a sign saying temporarily closed as of 9-10-14.
Thanks for letting us know.
Tried to eat here last week was met with a sign that said ‘especials del dia’ and included chicken tamales and arepas … walked around for 3 minutes couldn’t find any employees so I went to Mi Li Cafe, Would still like to try it but I’m pretty sure it’s under new management and no long a Vietnamese spot.
in fact last time i checked the kitchen is shared between Mexican and Vietnamese cuisines. both cooks are very good and delightful. however you have to call ahead if you want Vietnamese food they are way way casual about it. the owner of both is the owner of the grocery store, whose husband is a chef also but does not cook here. it is also dark so you have to ask the owner to turn on the overhead lights. it is not aesthetic or a nice warm cozy place to eat BUT the food is excellent and the Vietnamese cook who speaks no English at all makes brilliant crepes, the best in town absolutely not greasy and delicate. It takes on wonderful cartoon proportions as you watch the mexican cook who speaks no Vietnamese talk to the Vietnamese cook who speaks no Spanish but somehow they keep a marvelously clean kitchen and fill it with laughter. the restaurant may be very funky and the seating not divine and the television overhead not compatible but its soo soo good its worth calling ahead and telling them your coming!!
I just went there last week, and there is only a mexican lady who said “no vietnamese”. As Donna mentioned, there is only mexican sign.
hmmm i love the idea of pho saigon but its long gone and i have posted that twice. i spoke to the owner she said no chance of it returning. her cook the wonderful cook is ill and her husband who is also a cook has no desire to return to the stove . C’est tout my friends the same shopping center harbors another restaurant of vietnamese cooking but quite different and very authentic and not always to american tastes. a much more limited palette but good. we are all awaiting the opening of high and hendersons vietnamese pho place. pronounced fah like lah de dah. FAh not with a p. so while we eat ethnic might as well do the culture the honor of fahh and not foe…………………….iknow i know you wish they wrote it fahh . good day taking me group to La Plaza Tapatia and on that side of town there are some really fabulous Thailand eatery and one that i like is the grocery store that says cambodian mexican food and in fact in reality is a Vietnamese store that serves down home cooking from the island of Phuket in Thailand.