About thirty minutes after rolling myself back into my room, following an amazing steak brunch at Bull & Bear, I was off again to catch my next meal. This time, a “light” bowl of pho. If it were anything else, I may have declined and done a few laps around the lazy river instead, but
As it turns out, aside from being incredibly knowledgable about the Orlando food scene, Scott was a genuinely nice guy. How many food critics can you say that for? We were meeting at his favorite Pho joint in ViMi called Pho 88. In case you were wondering if this is the same Pho 88 as the one in your town, the number "8" is considered lucky in many Asian cultures, so it's no surprise that there are dozens of restaurants around the country with the same name.
While the skeptic inside me usually takes over when I see such a generic name, the lack of creativity is totally forgivable in this case. When it comes to pho, you don't go for the name, the service, or even the ambiance (which usually makes a high school cafeteria look romantic). You go for a steaming hot bowl of heady beef noodle soup redolent of star anise and onions.
Imagine my surprise, when we roll up to this nondescript Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Orlando, and I was treated to the best bowl of Pho I've had since moving to this coast. I got the Phở Đặc Biệt which basically means they put every part of the cow in it, meat, tendons, stomach, and all. The soup hit all the right notes, with just enough sweetness to keep me spooning mouthfuls of everything else into my mouth.
So remember that part of about eating a light meal? Well, that didn't work out so well given that they brought out two plates of every kind of summer roll they make, before our noodles came out. Of course I had to try one of every kind, and while none of them rocked my world, they were fresh and irresistible as always.
730 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803-4039.