Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pho 89 In Laurel (And A Plan For Pho Saigon 54)

Winter is our season of pho, and we're trying to branch out because we know that An Loi isn't the last word on Vietnamese food.

Last month, we started a shopping trip by stopping at Pho 89 in Laurel.  Alex from the Technology & MSG blog had commented about Pho 89 -- and posted about it previously.  I'm so aware that longtime Columbia folks bemoan the fact that An Loi's original owners sold the place, so I'm willing to try somewhere new.

Pho 89 gave us the warm cozy lunch that we needed.  This is a super-casual place like An Loi.  I ordered a large bowl of pho.  Mrs. HowChow ordered noodles with grilled chicken and a Vietnamese coffee.  They're both good, and I love the self-help meal where I add Thai basil, hot sauce, and bean sprouts to tailor the soup to my mood of the moment.  But I don't know that I'd drive all the way from Howard County -- or drive past An Loi.  Mrs. HowChow loves An Loi's lemongrass chicken, and she wasn't sold on Pho 89.

The comedy moment was Mrs. HowChow having me promise in the future to discourage that Vietnamese coffee.  Delicious.  But the condensed milk is so dense that all the sugar and caffeine couldn't stop her from falling into an afternoon haze.

But I'm still going back to Laurel for pho.  Casting about on Yelp, I realized that there are some very positive reviews of Pho Saigon 54 on U.S. 1 at Contee Road.  I'm no expert on Vietnamese broth, but I have several more cold months to check around.

Any pho experts -- or non-experts -- want to recommend the right places to eat and the right dishes to order?  I have seen the Korean page in An Loi's menu, so I get the idea that it isn't completely traditional Viet.  If you're looking for local Vietnamese, you should also try Pho Dat Thahn on Snowden River Parkway just up from An Loi.  The Chowhounders also bemoan that Pho Dat Thahn's original owners sold too.

Pho 89
3507 Fort Meade Road (Rte 198)
Laurel, MD 20723
(301) 362-2288

NEAR: Pho 89 is on Rte 198 just across the county line into Anne Arundel.  From U.S. 1, you pass the Home Depot and the Laurel Dutch Country Farmers Market.  Then you'll see Pho 89 at the end of a shopping center on the right.  It is across Rte 198 from several car dealers.

Pho 89 on Urbanspoon


Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...

I am big fan of Saigon 54. Good broth, beef cuts and noodles. The seating can be crowded on a weekday if you show up after 12:15-ish. Add-ons are as fresh as they come and nice (looking), quick service. Taking credit cards gives them the slight edge over VN One just down the road for a place to stop quick.

Kim said...

I am in the pro-Saigon 54 group myself. I usually try out the non-Pho items on the menu, usually one of the noodles-shrimp dishes. At Pho 89, the dish was simple and did not have enough vegetables; at Saigon 54 there is an abundance of vegetables and crushed peanuts and other awesome stuff. The ingredients always seem fresher there. We try to go about once a month!

Matt said...

Have you tried Pho Nam on Rte 40 in Catonsville?

6477 Baltimore National Pike
Catonsville, MD 21228-3904

davidc said...

i work with a bunch of vietnamese co-workers and they ONLY eat pho at Pho Nam on Rt 40.

Work in progress said...

I once read a sign that said "Life without you is like pho without broth".

Anonymous said...

Pho Nam in Catonsville is where I have been going ever since a Vietnamese woman I do business with said that was her first choice in the immediate area. However, she and her sister both recommend Pho Hiep Hoa in Silver Spring if one is willing to make the road trip. BTW, Pho Nam must be affiliated with one in the Rockville area because occasionally a tiny ad for Pho Nam appears in washingtonian magazine and it lists both towns. But beware: It is cash only at the one on Route 40.

Anonymous said...

I'm Vietnamese and I recommend Pho Real in Burtonsville. It's casual like An Loi but in my opinion, the pho is so much better overall. I've never been to Pho 89 or Pho Saigon 54, but I do want to try them out.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Pho Hiep Hoa in Wheaton is also very good! My parents used to take me there every weekend. It's quite a drive, but so worth it.

Anonymous said...

It's not HoCo, but Pho 88 on Rt. 1 in Beltsville is my personal favorite.

brandon said...

My wife and I tried Pho Nam at everyone's recommendation. First off, Google Maps is totally wrong about its location, it in with the Babys 'R Us Just as you're crossing over from Patapsco Park on 40 (that delayed us by ~20 minutes trying to find it).

First impressions: it was almost totally empty on a weekday night. Our favorite has been Pho Dat Thanh which is perpetually packed after 6pm, so this was a little strange. I did prefer the broth at Pho Nam, but the basil, sproats, etc. did not seem as fresh.

Overall, it was very good and if it were as close as Pho Dat Thanh I would probably go back more often. However, the ability to go out easily after work is a key to Pho Dat Thanh's place for me as a favorite and Pho Nam is much less convenient so I probably won't be back as often.

I'm sure I'll be back though. Pho restaurants have fast become a favorite as they have interesting food at very reasonable prices.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Vietnamese and have tasted Pho Nam,Pho Dat Thanh and Pho Real. Pho Nam is the best and Dat Thanh is the worst when comparing as a group. In my standard, Pho Nam is only 6/10.