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Cam Ranh Bay Pho & Grill, Chef Vince Dao's Vietnamese and Pho on University Blvd. in Wheaton


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We went to Lotus Cafe a long time ago and it was just okay then, no better than any others in the area and Pho 75 was tops at that time. But we just had the opportunity to try out a fairly new restaurant in Wheaton on Wednesday, and I had the best Pho I have had in a long time. The broth was incredibly beef-y and flavorful. Check it out and let me know if you agree, Thomas P. (Summer rolls were tasty as well)

Cam Ranh Bay Pho and Grill

It's located in half the building that used to house Good Fortune, on Univ. Blvd. (The other half is a Chinese restaurant.)

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I trekked by here the other day and have to say the pho I got was pretty decent. I got their four season roll appetizer, the roasted quail, and a bowl of pho with eye round, tendon and tripe.

The tofu and shrimp rolls were exactly what I expected, decent and excellent vehicles for transporting peanut sauce into my mouth. The spring roll was fried well and had a good crunch and texture, and I thought the grilled pork roll was pretty tasty.

I never had roasted quail before, and when I saw them I thought about how easily it could go really poorly. Because they're so small it seems like they'd be insanely easy to overcook. In addition, I had no idea how to eat them and wound up cavemanning the quail apart with my bare hands and teeth (I needed extra napkins). The legs and wings were a little dry, but not too bad, and the rest was nice and tender. The lemon pepper sauce they serve with it packs a huge wallop of citrus and salt and nearly overwhelmed every other flavor when I tried to use it, but overall I enjoyed this.

The pho had a decent mouthfeel. My first few sips I didn't get much flavor at all, but it starting coming out after that. For me it was more subtle, not so deeply flavored but with enough of the right elements to be satisfying. Still, after a bit I found I needed the hoisin, sriracha and basil as a crutch to prop it up, but that's been true almost universally since I've been in the area, and this broth was better than most. The noodles were perfectly done, the meat was good but somehow a couple of random pieces of fatty brisket and well done brisket snuck in the bowl. Nothing to really complain about, and overall a nice bowl of pho, and definitely one of the better ones I've had in the area.

The server was really nice, but there were some issues with the timing. The rolls came out first, and before I was halfway done with those the quail came out. So I started on the quail, and before I was 1/4 done with that the pho came out. I'm not sure if me being the only one in the restaurant makes it more understandable, since the kitchen only has my orders to go through and just quickly rolls through them, or less, because there's no excuse for a server not being able to tell the kitchen the proper time to fire up the next dish when there's only one table to look after, but my table was full of partially eaten dishes because I didn't have enough time to finish any of them.

If this was close to me I would probably go here for my pho fix, but it's not so good that I'd take a 40 minute metro ride each direction for it.

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This [the proximity of Cam Ranh Bay Pho & Grill] is music to the ears of someone who lives within a 10-minute walk.

fuzzy:  If you're in Wheaton, do yourself a favor (if you haven't already) and check out Mi La Cay, which is serving Vietnamese food as consistently good as any I've had at the Eden Center in quite a while.  Everything is very solid, and tasty; but the M9 beef soup is something more, at least the two times I've had it -- check it out.

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