An Loi Pho is a small restaurant with a basic menu, which makes it even more impressive that the array inspires me to return again and again.
Salted sodas sound like some travel writer's example of a "local" taste that disagrees with an American palette. But the salted plum and salted lemon sodas at An Loi are sweet with a perfectly-honed flavor of preserved fruit. They're light. They're unusual. And they're wonderful with the grilled meats and noodles dishs that make An Loi a great stop for a summer dinner.
If you are converted, you can buy preserved plums in the refrigerated section of the H Mart in Catonsville. I have played with recreating the sodas, but I still haven't gotten the right sweetness. I'll go back for more research.
Click here for a longer review of An Loi or here for a working list of the best restaurants in Howard County. In the winter (or anytime if you love coffee), check out An Loi's Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk.
An Loi Pho -- a longer review
7104 Minstrel Way
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: Off Snowden River Pwky north of Broken Land and south of the Home Depot. Look for the traffic light with a gas station and a KFC. An Loi is behind the gas station in a shopping center with a Pizza Hut Express and a nail salon.