I traveled to my hometown on a recent weekend. My family usually cooks dinner and Vietnamese food so it’s rare for us to go out, especially to a Vietnamese restaurant in West Palm Beach.
Some family came into town to visit and we decided it’d just be easier to head out to Pho 16, a new Vietnamese restaurant that we all wanted to try. We all know how parents can get, especially Asian parents, when it comes to judging and critiquing others, so I was well prepared to hear about all the little dislikes about this place or how it’s just not good as home made.
Located in a little plaza off of Military Trail and Community Dr, slightly hidden, Pho 16 would be easy to miss. Inside, the place reminds me of a cafeteria restaurant that you could find off the roads in Vietnam. The menu is simple, full of noodle soups, noodle bowls, and rice platters that those of us in Orlando have become familiar with.
For starters, we order the cha gio, or fried spring rolls. Stuffed with pork, wood eared mushrooms, and served with a fish sauce dipping sauce, the cha gio is pretty good and tastes like it was home made.
We also ordered the bo la lot, grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaves. Betel leaves are high in antioxidants and have been used in Asia for medicinal healing, stimulants, and even breath fresheners. In Vietnamese there is a saying that “the betel begins the conversation”, referring to the practice of people chewing betel in formal occasions or “to break the ice” in awkward situations. When grilled, the leaves give a peppery, minty flavor to the beef which I thought was quite nice.
My order was the bun thit nuong cha gio, rice noodles with grilled pork and egg rolls in one of the largest bowls I’ve ever had. It was very filling and very satisfying, and overall a great value for the quantity of food.
My sister ordered the banh canh, a kind of Vietnamese thick noodle similar to Japanese udon, in a seafood broth base, that sadly was a bit bland. “Nothing like mama’s banh canh,” she muttered underneath her breath.
Most of the table ordered the signature pho, which I had a taste of and thought, not as good as home made but pretty good for Vietnamese restaurant pho…definitely as good as some found here in Orlando, that’s for sure.
Overall, a very satisfying place to get your Vietnamese fix on while in West Palm Beach. The prices are decent and the quality is not bad…will definitely return.