Noodle and Pho Vietnamese Cuisine is a small, locally-owned restaurant that serves great Vietnamese food in Hixson, Tennessee.
Okay, I’ve actually been to Noodle and Pho once before, but it was when I was seriously absorbed in my new-car purchase and couldn’t bring myself to think about writing a blog post. Why it took me more than three months to get back there is beyond me. Actually, I don’t even know how long Noodle & Pho has been in Hixson (in the Hobby Lobby complex on 153), but it’s been there for a while and it’s shameful that it took me so long to get there. According to some reviewers on Urbanspoon, it actually used to be called Sushi and Pho, but after they stopped selling sushi they changed the name (good choice, though Philip maintains that they should have renamed it “What the Pho” since pho is pronounced “fuh”).
There are always several people in the restaurant when we go in…not a huge crowd, probably because of the location and the fact that Hixson is not exactly a hotspot of people seeking Vietnamese food. There are regulars, including a couple of ladies who were there today as well as the last time we were in there. It’s a very clean restaurant with decor that, while not completely “tied together” is still welcoming. Definitely look at the three metal signs by the “employees only” door to the kitchen. Very out of place and good for a laugh (I wish I’d taken a picture!).
The menu at Noodle and Pho isn’t huge-just appetizers, pho (which is Vietnamese noodle soup), vermicelli (rice noodle) dishes, and rice dishes. We decided to order the summer rolls, which we ordered the other time we dined here as well. Our server checked to make sure that we understood that summer rolls are not fried, so I suspect that a few people have been disappointed to get the chewy rice paper wrapped rolls instead of the shatteringly crisp spring rolls that they were probably expecting. We definitely wanted summer rolls, though. The summer rolls are rice paper wrappers, shrimp, a little bit of pork, vermicelli, and lettuce with a sweet/tangy dipping sauce laced with sriracha. They’re extremely fresh, light, and delicious. The slightly spicy sauce is the perfect complement to the rolls.
I decided to get the pho tái, or rare beef noodle soup. This is a gigantic bowl of broth with vermicelli noodles, slices of rare beef, sliced green onions, sliced red and white onions, and cilantro. It’s served with a plate of bean sprouts, basil, lime, and more cilantro. I shredded all of the cilantro and basil into my bowl, squeezed the lime wedge over, and added a big handful of the bean sprouts. Then I dipped into the soup. The thing that amazes me about pho (the experience was very similar at the Vietnamese Bistro in Dayton) is how rich and aromatic the broth is. I love the smell, and it tastes just like it smells…almost like it has cinnamon in it, but it’s actually infused with lots of delicious things like fish sauce (which smells terrible but adds a wonderful flavor to pretty much any savory thing), ginger, cloves, and star anise. The beef was perfectly tender and all the herbs, onions, and noodles just add to the amazing flavors and textures. It’s not an easy dish to eat by any means…basically I had to use a fork to eat the noodles (I’m too green to use chopsticks) and the little spoon they give you to slurp the broth, herbs, and meat.
Philip decided to go for the bún bò xaò, or stir fried beef vermicelli. This was a gigantic bowl of rice noodles with strips of beef, chunks of cooked onion, shredded carrots, shredded lettuce, and jalapeño with a thin sauce on the side. The lady told Philip to pour all of the sauce over the bowl and mix it well before eating. Most of the components of the dish were cold, with the meat, onions, and green onions warm. It was basically like a beef summer roll in a bowl, with the sauce adding just a little bit of sweet, tangy spice as well as moisture. Delicious.
In addition to the regular menu, there’s a board hanging above the aquarium (near the restroom) with a few different dishes written on it. I’m not sure if these are specials or if they’re regularly available items that just didn’t make it into the menu. Bánh mì, a French-influenced Vietnamese sandwich, has been on this board both times we’ve been in and next time I go I think I’ll try it. I feel pretty certain that no matter what I try, though, I’ll be happy. This is very fresh, beautiful, and amazingly tasty food. I can’t attest to its authenticity, but it this is Vietnamese food then count me in. It’s also very affordable-our lunch was around $23 pre-tip.
Get to Noodle and Pho!
Noodle and Pho is located at 5450 Highway 153 (in the Hobby Lobby complex near the dress shop and the Dollar Tree), Hixson, TN 37343. You can call them at 423-531-3462. Unfortunately, they do not have a website or Facebook page.