Guam Diner Bytes: Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant
I had first heard about Pho Basi while listening to Ray Gibson describing his favorable dining experience there shortly after they had opened. They have only been open for about two months, so it was time to go and visit. We left the office (I'd invited Aileen to join me) as I needed to share this food experience. When we arrived there were a few customers eating. The place still had a just painted odor to it, so it's sense newness was evident. It is bright inside and there are several flat screen monitors showing video without audio. There is a long bar on one side of the restaurant which fronts the entrance to the kitchen. It is a well-stocked bar, however, it is so bright I don't think anyone wants to drink at it. The official name on the sign is Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant & Lounge. They would have to open later and dim the lights for the lounge business to pick up.
While sitting there and reviewing the menu, our server came and asked for our drinks. There is a reason why I wait for restaurants to be operating for a few months before reviewing...they have service issues to address. This is part of the case here as the servers are still a little shy and aren't paying a lot of attention to the tables that need clearing. They also don't keep an eye on their active customers...they are caught up in the process of taking orders and filling them, not of staying tuned into the customers. Just a few first impressions. The menu at Pho Basi is extensive and has most of the Vietnamese standards. The co-owner/chef, Linh Le, told us that she had first started out with soups being their focus, with other foods following. She really takes pride in her soups.
We only ordered four dishes to sample for this review. They were an appetizer (Vietnamese Sandwich - $7.50); the Pho Dac Biet (Special Noodles Soup with sliced beef, beef tripe, beef tendon, well-done beef and meatballs - $11.95); Shrimp Lemon Grass - $11.95; and Deep Fried Pork Chop ($9.95). I also ordered a Vietnamese Coffee(Iced) for $4.00.
Here's a quick assessment of the food we had: The Vietnamese Coffee - was outstanding! One of the richest and best tasting I've had at a local restaurant.
The Pho - Very Fresh with a light broth that I was able to complete with my add ins - Hoisin Sauce, Sriracha hot chili sauce, bean sprouts, squeezed lemon, and fresh basil. This was for the bowl we shared. I added additional donne peppers to my bowl. The beef was good and the portion was quite large. The prices seem to be higher than other places, but that may be something that's been going up for everyone. There was left over soup and noodles - more than two of us could finish.
The Shrimp Lemon Grass was just fabulous, not because the shrimp were huge (they weren't), but they were clean and plentiful. It was the actual lemon grass sauce...this was not made in haste, but made with TLC. If I knew how to make it, I'd be a fanatic about making it this good! So intensely flavored you'd want to run anything you could grab and mop up this sauce! Also, the onions were sauteed and were so sweet and tasty we just kept picking these pieces up and eating them...so very good! Now I want to try her beef and chicken lemongrass. They score highly on this item.
The Fried Pork Chop - Not too impressed. Kind of tough and not that well flavored or marinated...dry. They needed finadene. I actually broke up pieces and dipped them in the lemongrass sauce...much better! Zozo's has excellent deep fried pork chops! If you are going to eat unhealthy food, make sure it's the best!
The Vietnamese Sandwich - known as Banh mi, this is another carefully crafted treat! It is a single serving (sliced in two halves), and served as an appetizer, not a main course. I think it would be more loaded and priced higher because of the ingredients. The baguette is toasted, warm, and crisp to the touch and bite. There is pate, mayonnaise, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, sliced pork and onions. We both were amazed and pleased, and had a hard time putting our halves of the sandwich down it was so good!
Salad Dressing - middle bottle between Sriracha and Hoisin. This is the salad dressing made with cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, and lime juice. Very tasty on the greens! I've had this before on beef salad...great! Try it!
So, overall we were greatly impressed. This restaurant already has a following and social media has been quite supportive in referring business and new customers. We will come back for sure. The other partner is George Basile and they have worked hard to get this place operational. I will come back and try what Linh says is her hottest soup seller - the Bun Bo Hue (spice beef soup with beef and pig's feet) for $10.95! Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant is a great new discovery!!