PoP Pho Patrol – Reader Submitted First Impression

DSCN7368, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

Thought I’d chime in with a review of Pho 14 (Park Road west of 14th Street). I had dinner there tonight (Thursday).

I’ll start with the good news: the pho itself is quite good. I don’t think it’s quite on par with Pho 75, but it’s not far off, either. The broth is a tad saltier than I’m used to, and a little lacking in onion (green and white) and cilantro. The beef (I got the pho tai, which is just the eye of round beef) was okay, although I prefer getting it when it’s blood-red rare in the bowl, so that the broth cooks it until it’s just done. The beef here was a little more done than I like, but that’s a small matter. We also ordered the three types of spring rolls (fried, fresh w/shrimp and pork, fresh veggie), which were all pleasant, if unremarkable. The only negative I’d note was that the peanut dipping sauce was really thin and watery; its much thicker, and deeper in flavor, at most other Vietnamese places I’ve been to.

As for the service, well… it was opening night, they were slammed with people, so I don’t want to be too hard on them. But there are definitely huge kinks that they need to work out. Our party was seated for about 25 minutes before we had our order taken, and that was only because we finally flagged someone down (I noticed a couple of parties got up and left after getting seated because no one had taken their order). We had to flag someone down again to bring us utensils for the spring rolls, and again for spoons and chopsticks after the pho was brought out. Of the five of us, they missed one order of pho (which was brought out within a couple minutes thereafter), and got two others slightly wrong. One person ordered a drink that never came (although they did bring it to us at the end of the meal, after we got the bill and asked about it).

The staff was very apologetic, and were sincere in trying to fix things for us, so that’s a big plus. Like I said, it was opening night, so some snafus are to be expected… I think there were probably more than I (and probably they) had hoped for, however. Of course, I’m used to the well-oiled machine of Pho 75, which seats you, takes your order, and serves you within a space of about 90 seconds. I’ll definitely come back to Pho 14 — I’m a huge pho fan, and having a place that is so close, and pretty close in quality to other Pho places is awesome — but I’m going to wait a few weeks until they (hoepfully) have the service issues a bit more worked out.”

I have heard that they were super crowded so considering they just opened I wouldn’t judge them too harshly on the service. As the reader mentioned, there are always kinks to be worked out on opening night. But I am curious to know what you guys thought of the food. So let us know which Pho you ordered and your first impression.

30 Comment

  • I had the chicken pho and it was quite good. I agree with pretty much everything ready said especially about the wateriness of the peanut dipping sauce. Staff was definitely aware of how chaotic it was and were very apologetic. I’m one of those people that think cilantro tastes like soap, so I’m happy that they went light on it. Anyone else out there taste soap, or is it just me?

  • I walked by there tonight on my way home and there was a line out the door. One of the people waiting outside commented, “Why should I wait when I can probably get better out in NoVA?” Way to support local businesses.

  • Note to all cilantro haters, Pho 14 happily left it out of my wife’s bowl last night at her request. It was fairly prominent in the bahn mi I ordered, but that’s how I like it.

    Also, the spring rolls were unusually good, I think, as were the beef skewers. Nice and oily, not tough. Service will improve. I think the owners are “all in” with this effort and are quite friendly.

  • Got in last night before the huge rush; we only waited five minutes for a table, but when we left there was a huge line down the street.

    Man, it was tasty as hell! Yeah, service was a little slow, but our waiter was awesome and apologetic. And it was opening night! I mean, it was obvious that they were having issues with the ordering system, the POS, and just smoothing out the kinks. But, the pho was fantastic! I’m a ltitle sad that the picture above doesn’t include the necessary accoutrements: basil/mint, line, bean sprouts, etc.

    Anyway, I’m so psyched this place relaunched. I hope to hell that they stay busy and do well!

  • Oh, I got the pho tai as well. And mine wasn’t salty at all, and had plenty of onion,

    I’m going to just say it’s all probably opening day inconsistencies that will work themselves out.

  • We went last night as well- it was crowded but well worth the wait. Since we didn’t get in until around 8, and it was so crazy, i think they actually ran out of onions. But it didn’t matter, the pho was absolutely fantastic either way. The broth had an awesome kick to it- everyone agreed at my table it was just a tad spicy (in a fantastic way). Yes it was crazy and crowded and they have serving issues to work out, but it was the first day! And the wait staff was all extremely nice and apologetic. I’m so excited for this place to be open!!!

  • It was really tip top pho. Compared to pho 75, this place is, im my opinion a far better option for pho. At pho75 they only have one type of soup whereas here we have all the permutations of flank, tripe, round beef, etc. (much more akin to the pho shops you’ll find in any other city). Also, pho 14 has sriracha on the tables, a definite plus.

  • No mention of prices yet. I am assuming that is a good sign. Any body that went care to share how the bill shaped up? How about drinks?

  • Price was really reasonable. The large bowl was 8.95 (for me), the medium bowl was 7.95 (for my dinner companion). And the large bowl was more than plenty.

  • I was there opening night and thought it was fantastic! I had the Pho Tai and I liked it better than Pho 75 because the broth didn’t seem as oily, it had a great flavor and the meat wasn’t chewy. The staff was very apologetic for the service, and even offered a neighboring table’s dinner free because they had to flag someone down to order. I’m so excited this is so close to home instead of driving to VA!

  • To me, cilantro tastes like Windex…

  • I had the veggie pho, which was deliciously aromatic and not too cilantro-y at all- and a medium bowl was def more than enough. Ordered the plain iced tea, which looked nondescript but had an intriguing undercurrent of something herbal you wouldn’t expect – almost like rosemary. Our server was actually really prompt and attentive- she said she had just come on (around 8) so probably wasn’t as exhausted as the rest of the crew!

    My only gripe is that they don’t serve any sweet stuff…though I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything else.

  • I had the veggie pho, which was deliciously aromatic and not too cilantro-y at all- and a medium bowl was def more than enough. Ordered the plain iced tea, which looked nondescript but had an intriguing undercurrent of something herbal you wouldn’t expect – almost like rosemary. Our server was actually really prompt and attentive- she said she had just come on (around 8) so probably wasn’t as exhausted as the rest of the crew!

    My only gripe is that they don’t serve any sweet stuff…though I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything else.

  • Correction: that should read “she had just come on (around eight).


  • Hmm… I’ve never tried Windex, but that sounds reasonable.

  • Was also there last night. I definitely think the service problems and long waits and all was just par for the course on opening night, and they were very nice and accommodating.

    I don’t think it’s as good as Pho 75 in Arlington, but it’s not trying to be a just-pho place, either.

    jonah22 — I think you must not actually mean Pho 75 because they certainly have every kind of pho there and sriarchi and everything else on the table. Are you thinking of Nam Viet in Cleveland Park? I think Pho 14 is better — for pho, only — so far than the DC Nam Viet, but won’t be able to compete with the best NoVa places.

    Wonderful addition to the neighborhood, I’m so happy about it!

  • I was one of the people who got up and left because it took forever for someone to take our order. We are patient people and realize it was opening night so we were trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the last straw was when a table that was seated a few minutes after us was getting their orders in while we were still sitting, waiting. And waiting. And waiting… Will probably try it again long after the buzz dies down and they have worked the kinks out. I love me some pho.

  • Me and Mrs. Brew Dude went last night, crowded as above, but I think they were moving people as well as could be expected. Good thing they don’t serve alcohol or the “hang out” times would have been much longer. Any word on if they’ll have beer in the future?

    The wife had the skirt flank Pho, i got a grilled beef Bun. Very tasty and reasonably priced.

  • It was a little chaotic. I usually have a rule of not going to restaurants in the first two weeks of opening but I was so excited. The food was excellent and I agree that the pho needs nore cilantro. Veggie spring rolls were delicious and I loved the sauce. I was disapointed there was no french lemonade. Staff was kind, friendly, and apologetic for opening night kinks.

  • anon 1041,

    yeah that’s actually what i meant. I think on their sign at nam viet that have something like pho 79 and i got them mixed up.

  • Stilton – Thanks for the news about the veggie pho!!! Good news. Will check it out soon.

  • My two cents, must say, I work in Georgetown near the bridge, and in the winter I went to Pho 75 at least once a week….. i knew that was going to skew my opinion, but here it goes:

    the bf and I are later dinner eaters, so we went around 9. there was evidence of chaos, and while the place was still packed, we got a table within a few minutes. The waitstaff was very nice.

    We had a #7 and a #8, (different combos of flank, brisket and eye of round) however, took quite a while to come out. when it did, my broth was just warm, not as hot as it needed to be, usually its near scalding, which is great for the aroma and steaming the bean sprouts. My noodles (and my date’s) were totally one, solid, mass. I don’t think either of us got cilantro. so not quite hot enough soup + mass of noodles, no cilantro….. didnt quite excite me. i came with low expectations, so I really wasnt that disappointed. the flavor of the pho was decent, but really, if the soup had a higher temp, it would have been spot on.

    Bottom line, ill try again in a few weeks, this time carry out. Place was far too scenic.

  • oh yeah, im a longtime fan of Nam Viet… just not for their pho

  • First pho experience, so not much to compare it to.

    I thought it was yum, and will def go back. There were a few bumps (out of coconut juice, took a long time for my date’s dish to come out, noodles were stuck together, I only realized I had to ask for the dish of mint/cilantro addition stuff after i was full). But, everyone was very nice and the food is great in comparison to some of the other local options.

    Also, the shrimp skewer was perhaps the best thing I have tasted since I moved to DC.

  • Went there in the afternoon before things got busy and loved it. Had the #1 and while the beef was a bit more well done than I like, the broth, noodles, and toppings were all superb and delicate in flavor without being over the top. The best part was the tripe and all the crunchy cartilage bits that don’t often appear in Americanized versions. The accompanying platter of sprouts, basil, peppers, and lime was big enough to be a meal in itself. The staff were extremely nice and gave me a free banh mi to go after it turned out they didn’t have the one I originally requested (not to mention I had already gotten some free Vietnamese coffee). Coming from an Asian family and having grown up with lots of ramen and noodles, I’m happy that there’s finally a place in the District where I can get a satisfying bowl. I really hope that they can smooth out any bumps and keep up the quality.

  • We went yesterday to try and get take out but they were packed, today around 6:00 pm it wasn’t too busy. The pho was excellent – and if you’re not a pho fan there are lots of other options.

    I’m thrilled to have this in our neighborhood~

  • I would recommend not having the pho with the meatballs unless you like large bits of clear fat in your meatballs. I say that sincerely as there probably is somebody who loves that, it’s just not me. My mistake – I might have the brisket next time. But the soup tasted good and the service was trying hard, even if they may not have the routine for dealing with a constantly full restaurant down.

    But I am happy the place is in the neighborhood, and that I could find it. It’s past the carniceria and the pollo sabroso on a block full of Salvadoran places so it took me a minute to double check the location, seeing as I had only heard it was at “14th & Park.”

  • Being Vietnamese and living in the D.C area, I thought I should comment on the Pho and how it reminded me much of being back in Saigon and eating my grandmother’s homemade Pho…I didn’t expect that coming from this place. I’ll diff. come back to see if my mind was playing tricks one me. I swear they put crack in bowl because it was amazing. I’m even more impress at the service because I’m been to many Vietnamese restaurants (recently mainly Pho restaurants) but this place showed me that they’re willing to be different. Let’s be frank, there aren’t a lot of Vietnamese restaurants out there that want to focus on great service. However, it’s safe to say that one of the few that has, just opened and they’re called Pho 14. Great job, I’m happy for the people who owns Pho 14. God bless them!

    Pho= great
    Service = Unexpectedly great
    Price = Reasonably
    Pho 14 being in D.C = Priceless!!!

  • I don’t know about you guys but I live in NoVa and there is Pho places everywhere and the only one thats good is pho 50 and pho 75. The broth is up there and the spring rolls are just delicious. And I dont know about you guys but Pho 14 actually has service with Pho, I have not been to any other pho place with good service, it usually goes sit order eat but this place is cool, the staff is cool, all know english and seem amercianized, and some of them actually talk and get to know u. great job pho 14 keep it up

  • On the banh mi front, the pate cha is quite tasty (maybe not quite Song Que level, but very good). Oh, and if you tell the server that you only want the sandwich, not the appetizer, they will charge you less (this is not written on the menu), making it virtually the same price as Subway for something ten times yummier!

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