The waiters don’t even bother asking customers sitting at PHO VIE II what they want. Out comes a plate of basil leaves, cilantro twigs, jalapeño slivers, bean sprouts and lime wedges: the traditional garnishes for pho. The waiters know why you and dozens of others have visited—outside hangs a big banner promising “50% OFF PHO GA.” Half-off a massive bowl of chicken soup. A big meal for $2.50 in these desperate times. What the hell are you doing reading this review? Save me for later, and go now . . .
You’re back—wasn’t it delicious? Didn’t you like the steaming bowl, the light broth and the lean white strips of hen breast? Granted, some folks don’t like their chicken soups with bone-in meat, but that extra bit of cartilage and marrow lends a sweetness to Pho Vie II’s namesake you can’t find in other places. And not all of the chicken strips were completely clean—some had bumpy skin, others a bit of gristle. Hope you didn’t toss those nastier bits to the side—the flashes of fat were spectacular, candy-like in warm, sugary comfort. And I hope ustedes dunked each chicken slice into the smaller bowl of fish sauce—combining the sea with the barn might not be kosher, but it’s perfectly halal in the mouth.
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Pho Vie II has a lengthy menu, but all are variations on three dishes—pho, bún (the great vermicelli-noodle soup I’m amazed health nuts haven’t yet appropriated like the burrito/wrap) and some rice dishes. Honestly, I didn’t bother looking at the rest of their menu, so alluring a bargain the chicken pho is (and I don’t know how long it’s going to last, so again, go now). I did notice the environment—large, airy, the perfect combo of Vietnamese dive and the newer efforts emphasizing ambience over cheap prices. The only disturbing aspect was the Gipsy Kings-esque music in the background, but the customers were paying more attention to their slurps than guitar strums.
And confidential to Pho Vie II’s waiters: I’m sorry about the snot-filled napkins I left on the table. I’ve been under the weather lately, and a Facebook amigo commented on my status by recommending you folks. Your amazing soup decongested me to the tune of five Kleenexes. I wanted to throw the crumpled-up tissues away so that none of you would have to handle my sickness, but there wasn’t a trashcan in sight, so I stuck them inside a copy of TheOrange County Register, right on Gordon Dillow’s latest love letter from Iraq. I hope you don’t mind—the waiters, of course, not Dillow.
Pho Vie II, 10120 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 539-5224.