Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buckeye Pho - Northern Columbus

Buckeye Pho - Asian Kitchen

My family used to frequent this restaurant often when it first opened even though it was well over a 30 minute drive. If you Columbus, it's hard to find a decent Pho restaurant that is consistent in the flavor of the soup with decent service. We don't expect the best service since it is a casual spot. It has been a few months since visiting this restaurant, but only because of the drive. 

bun mi (Cold cut)
The family used to work at the owner's sister in law's cafe (MiLi's Cafe off 161) - but took a risk to open a Pho shop on their own. They are Vietnamese so you can consider this authentic.

They greet you as soon as you walk in and let you choose where you want to sit. You can choose from either the bar or the tables. There are several tables and the waitress was happy to push together tables to accommodate (today) our family of 5.

There is a wall filled with buckeye nuts attached and 3 huge flat screen TVs always with the spots channel on and Vietnamese karaoke. It's not very big but is big enough to fit everyone comfortably.

Summer Rolls
Our waitress was prompt. She took our drink orders and was quick once they were ready. This included the food. There was a short wait for the food and she checked on us to make sure food was good and refills were given. As we just made it before the rush of people coming in, our food didn't take very long but every time we come we hardly noticed the wait.

My children ordered large specialty Pho, my husband spring rolls and the seafood crispy fried egg noodle and I ordered a small Pho, cold cut bun mi and ice coffee. My youngest also ordered fried egg rolls, a strawberry boba tea and my husband a honeydew boba tea.

The specialty drinks are in same size glass cups as the other drinks. Just enough for one person. The Vietnamese ice coffee is strong and just enough. I very rarely order a second. The children once in a while get refills on their sodas and they always provide water in addition to our drinks.

The large Pho bowls are pretty big but more of a regular size to me when eating Pho. Perfect for one person. The smalls are a good size for children  or people wanting Pho in addition to another dish. The Xl size is pretty good to hold off my husband who has a big appetite for Pho. The crispy noodle was a large dish, half way to a serving dish.

The Pho is always good. Slightly sweet and seemed like a hint of soy sauce that day but very good. 

Crispy Noodle
This was the first time we tried the seafood crispy fried egg noodle which was good but not great. The noodles were crispy and crunchy but had a taste of eating noodles straight out of the bag (mi mama) which is good but only in small portions. The noodles soften once sitting in the gravy. Not very filling but enjoyable if you like picking at all the good seafood and veggies. The gravy was good and flavorful. Good selection of seafood including octopus, imitation crab, and shrimp. The veggies included baby bok choy, green onions and shitake mushrooms. 

The bun mi is one of my favorites because the fresh french bread is so crispy good on the outside and soft on the inside with a good amount of filling. I like to order the cold cut but they also offer other types. All good in my opinion but then  I am a bread girl so to me it comes down to the fresh french bread and amount of filling. 

The ice coffee was great, strong and not too sweet. The boba teas were a good amount, more like fruit ice cream than smoothies but very refreshing and good.

 The summer rolls are also good, proportioned the noodles with the veggies and meat are good. Sometimes you run into restaurants with too much of one or the other. The summer rolls can also lose taste if the sauce is not good which is not the case at Buckeye Pho. My youngest always loves the fried egg rolls so no complaints there. They always come out hot and fresh as egg rolls should be.

 Prices are not bad for the amount of food. They are not the same as in other larger states of course but is worth it for the good food. Small specialty pho is $ 7.59 as the large is $8.59 and jumbo $10.99. Spring rolls are $3.59 for two rolls, and $3.69 for two fried egg rolls. The bun mi sandwich was $5.59 but more depending on which one you order. I'm still upset that restaurants like this charge $1.99 for sodas out of the dispenser but at least here we received refills. 

Overall Experience:
Pho Dac Biet (Specialty Pho)
 We like this cafe / restaurant. We don't often get to visit but make it out when we can. The food is good and service is good. The pho is good also but sometimes the prices could match the cheaper prices in Texas and California but they have a lot more pho restaurants. The restaurant also offers a lot of selection to choose from including Bun Cuon (crepes) and rice dishes. I've had their rice dishes which are also good, both in amount and taste. They also have one of my favorite desserts, Crème Brulee both in regular and coffee flavor that I have yet to try. In retrospective we will return to have lunch or dinner here with the family if we're ever in the area again. 

Very Full Belly - Bay Nan

Buckeye Pho on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pho Chef - Northern Columbus

According to my brother, since I am a Virgo, I loved to be serviced. Well, to me it makes perfect sense. It not always the meal but the experience! I always take in account service, how fast I get my food (or if I notice the wait), the atmosphere, the wait staff, the amount of food and finally, the taste. This is my first restaurant review.

Pho Chef
Asian Noodles & Grill

 I look at this picture and think, "Man, this looked way better than it tasted that day."

Last week my boss's friend opened a new restaurant called Pho Chef. With the limited options of places to eat Pho in Columbus I was excited to see a new restaurant to try. Now keep in mind, since cooking it almost every Sunday for the past 10 yrs for my husband, I have grown to dislike Pho in general. Sick of it, if you will.

Back to my boss, who somehow has two birthdays because for some reason, when they came to America they felt an urge to give them a different birth date than their actual birthday. Um.. OK.  In celebration of his second birthday (the real one) he wanted to treat the office to lunch. GREAT! Free lunch and a new restaurant at that!

A friend of my brother posted how disappointed he was at this restaurant since it was not authentic Vietnamese. Eh, I'm not Viet but can pull off an awesome bowl of Pho. Boss let's me know some of the history. This is a successful franchise branching from Texas where they had so much success they decided to come to Ohio. The husband is Cambodian but the wife is of Vietnamese descent so it must be good if its authentic!Right?

It is a cafe style restaurant so no need for fancy shoes or ties. As we walk in we are greeted by the owner or should I say our boss is because I don't think anyone that was not Cambodian was greeted at all within our group of seven. We order our drinks and food.

Food Ordered:
I ordered the above (N7 Basil Beef Flat Noodles) thinking it will be as close to a Phad Kee Mao (drunken noodles) without the spice. I also ordered an ice coffee with condensed milk (Vietnamese style).

Its a good wait before the food comes out and is service by someone who is unaware of which customer ordered what so you must know what you ordered and what it looks like.  We were never offered any refills nor additional drinks once our specialty drinks were finished. Once the waitress took our order, we never saw her again.

The customer at the next table never received his food and they proceeded twice to bring him two different soups of which neither he ordered. He was not upset, he just waited patiently while his family finished their food. He was better than I would have been.

Food Portions:
Usually when ordered from a new restaurant they are very generous with their food portions but this restaurant was not. Several co-workers ordered the noodle soups and I notice the size of the bowl were much smaller that what is usually served in Columbus. The drinks came out in thick glass cups that held a lot less liquid then it looked. The amount of noodle compared to the amount of bean spouts I had underneath the noodles was very disappointing. The menu did not look like a lunch menu and neither were the prices so I'm sure this was not the lunch portion.

My co-worker ordered Lemon Grass chicken with rice and side of soup. By the look of her plate, either her plate was too big or the food was too small. I tend to believe the latter. My boss also ordered us the Bun Mi to try. The bread was fresh and crispy but the amount of meat and veggies they put in the actual sandwich was beyond disappointing.

After reviewing the menu what had me disappointed beside the portion sizes were the prices. Soda, which came from the soda dispenser was priced at $1.99 and I don't believe there are free refills. The soups were $6.99, a $1 more for XL. The meals were all about $7.99.

The food overall was not good. It was not bad, just not good. The food was plain with little to no flavoring. There are sauces like Sriracha and such but not meant for my dish. The Pho soup had good flavor. The sandwich Bun Mi was OK but not worth the drive. The ice coffee was good but a small amount than what I am used to being served.

Overall Experience:

My husband loves Pho. The soup was actually not bad but not the best. I would not bring my husband here to eat because I don't believe it is worth the drive. I am very disappointed in the portions, being a newly opened restaurant. I am disappointed I left thirsty and disappointed in their service. At one point I asked the waitress for a spoon to stir my coffee and never received it. I left unsatisfied and disappointed at my experience. You know it's bad when you leave a restaurant after eating thinking about where you should stop by to grab something else to eat.

Hungry Hippo - Bay Nan

Pho Chef on Urbanspoon