It's outside Howard County, but so perfect if you're making repeated trips to Ikea in College Park. Along with the list of things that I had forgotten at Ikea, I carried Momomom's comment about what you want in high quality pho:
I want really nice garnishes of cilantro and Thai basil, sprouts that are crisp with no brown edges, generous wedges of lime, some sliced jalapennos, sriracha and hunan sauce bottles. I want HOT broth that is meaty but not greasy. I want all dente rice noodles nested in a circle. I want various meat options even though I always get the plain round steak. I want the spoon and the chopsticks must be nice...not break apart wooden ones. I like an option with vegetables instead of meat. I like fast service ... that seems the norm for pho. Predictable and always the same over and over again.
That's Pho Saigon 54 in a paragraph. This is one of those simple, shopping center restaurants like An Loi or Pho Dat Trahn in Columbia that offer Vietnamese soup, noodles, and those delicious summer rolls. We really liked the pho. Hot soup, fresh herbs, terrific noodles that filled us up. Pho Saigon is clean, fast and offers all the sauces, hot peppers and sprouts to personalize your own bowl. Certainly as good as the Howard County spots. I thought the brother and meat were excellent here, but I'll need to see if one of these three actually excels.
Pho is perfect for a chilly spring day. You leave warm and full, but not so stuffed that you need a nap. You can still do your errands, assemble your television stand, or whatever else needs to get done.
Momomon -- Why do you want the noodles in a circle? They were. I just wondered why! [Update: Check out Perrik's comments below for an answer and for other pho recommendations.]
Pho Saigon 54
13600 Baltimore Ave #306
Laurel, MD 20707
NEAR: Pho Saigon is in a shopping center at U.S. 1 and Contee Road in Laurel. That's south of Rt 198. Pho Saigon is in an outbuilding next to the Starbucks.