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Pho Hiep Hoa, Wheaton and Silver Spring


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I ate at Pho Hiep Hoa in downtown Silver Spring on Friday night and was disappointed by my #3 pho. The broth was not scalding hot (granted, it was hot, but I want that broth thermonuclear!), it tasted kinda flat, and they used LEMONS and not limes on the salad plate. The presence of sawtooth herb was not enough to make up for the fact there was no lime (in the coconut...).


Beyond the sacrilage of lemon v. lime, if I recall correctly from looking at the menu, this place is kind of expensive for pho as well.
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Today is a day for pho if there ever was one.

Good call!! I went to Pho Hiep Hoa in Wheaton for lunch and it really hit the spot. They also have the ngo gai (saw leaf herb) that someone else mentioned. It seemed like the ingredients were scraped from the bottom of the barrel. The basil only had a few scraggly leaves on the stalk, the saw leaf herb looked old and even the meat pieces looked...well....scrappier than usual. Maybe Bourdain's axiom about not eating sushi on a Monday extends to pho as well???? No matter - I was there for the broth and it was perfect!!

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Yesterday's meal at Pho Hiep Hoa in SS was incredibly rich and flavorful. Better than I remember.

I've had hits and misses at many Pho restaurants, and from the widely differing opinions on who has the best version I've come to the conclusion that there really is no way to determine which is "best." It appears to me that the time of day one goes, whether one gets the just made-rich broth, or watered down trying to stretch version, or if a different cook is in the house all have an effect on the final product. Although I must admit I've had the most favorable of soups at the Pho 75 in Rockville, I've even had a disappointing dish there every now and again.

Since I had Pho yesterday, I probably won't be trying the one at Jack's until later this week, if I have the chance to get out for lunch at all. On another note, I ran into someone yesterday who told me of a new Pho shop soon to be opening on NH Ave in Cloverly...the more the merrier I say! I'll be on the lookout for it to open and will report once it does.

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I had a respectable lunch today at the comfortably worn-looking Silver Spring Pho Hiep Hoa today (they must have gotten their booths second-hand, because they look much older than the shopping center).

#14 Green Papaya Salad (or, in Vietnamese, the hilarious Goi Du-Du, $6.95) is available with fully eight different toppings, and I highly recommend the pork, which is grilled and compliments the sweet, mildly hot papaya.

For a non-Pho specialist (this is a full-fledged Vietnamese restaurant), Pho Hiep Hoa does a respectable version. A large P-4 Tai, Chin, Nam, Gan, Sach ($7.95) had an average broth, fairly watery, but took on some richness from the reasonably generous portion of meat.

Cheers,

Rocks

P.S. I'm not certain that all three of these restaurants are under the same ownership - there's no website (which is unusual for a three-restaurant chain), and Silver Spring's carryout menu seems to be very much its own.

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P.S. I'm not certain that all three of these restaurants are under the same ownership - there's no website (which is unusual for a three-restaurant chain), and Silver Spring's carryout menu seems to be very much its own.

my understanding is that SS is its own operation. No idea about FC.

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I seem to remember asking when they opened in SS...and I thought that I was told that the Wheaton and SS were related. It's possible that has changed; it's also possible that my memory had a lapse :angry:

They definitely were at first but I think they sold the Wheaton location. In any case, the old crew who ran Wheaton is no longer there.
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I've eaten at the Wheaton location twice recently. It used to be my one and only pho place but then the good one in Beltsville opened up so the trip to Wheaton wasn't worth it anymore. The dining room has been updated; it's no longer the dingy school cafeteria it used to be. The broth was excellent as always in the pho. Today I changed things up a bit and ordered the vermicelli with eggrolls and shredded pork. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be cold but the pork was a gelatinous hot mess of deliciousness and the egg rolls were perfectly fried. Everything was pulled together with the fish sauce based dipping sauce and too much sriracha. Although confused by the empty water glass and glass of hot water that were delivered with my coffee, I enjoyed everything.

More evidence for the "are these restaurants still related" discussion--none of the staff present on these two recent trips were present back in the day when I used to frequent this spot.

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I've had pho at the Silver Spring location 3 times, most recently last night, and the broth seems to be getting better. There were plentiful fresh herbs, including culantro, and lime instead of lemon alongside. Green papaya salad was OK. Last night we had an order of trasi fried rice - good & spicy with very fresh tasting shrimp. Service is iffy, but lingering over hot pho isn't such a bad thing on a cold, rainy night.

More evidence for the "are these restaurants still related" discussion--none of the staff present on these two recent trips were present back in the day when I used to frequent this spot.

They now have a website that lists both Silver Spring and Wheaton.

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Lunch last week:

post-4177-0-89852900-1361919118_thumb.jp

Just what I was looking for: a big bowl of hot soup on a dreary and cold winter day. As a side benefit, I finally figured out where Full Key, Ren's Ramen, and Ruan Thai all are. Although: bummed that I got the wrong Full Key. (Spelling is hard.)

Update: no, I don't remember what's in here. Brisket, tendon ... I dunno. I've taken to the practice of simply coming in, sitting down, and ordering "No. 1 with meatballs." Never disappoints!

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