Dining » Food Features

Pho Lee is a Worthy Addition to Asian Town Center



As in the case of SalsaRito, Pho Lee is in a space that has seen more than its fair share of turnover. By my count, this is the fourth Vietnamese restaurant to occupy this spot in eight years. From Pho 99 to Ninh Kieu to Pho Ha Nam, all of them served great pho and other Vietnamese dishes, but the under-the-radar digs deep inside Asian Town Center likely proved insurmountable. Here's hoping that this time is different, because given the quality of the soups sold here, people should be beating a path to the door.

It's always pho season, but colder weather screams for bun bo hue ($11.95), a meatier, spicier and, I would argue, more winter-appropriate brew. The version served here starts with deeply flavorful beef stock and is kicked up in all sorts of ways, evident by the burnt amber hue and pools of red chili oil that slick the surface. Unlike with pho, there's only one version, a hat-size bowl with thin-sliced beef, pork roll, tendon, an unwieldy knuckle of some sort and thick, round noodles. It's paired with an exceptionally fresh garnish plate overflowing with snow-white bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, fried banana blossoms, fresh mint and limes.

The pho, available in models starring rare beef, brisket, meatballs, tendon and tripe — and myriad combinations thereof — is brilliantly clear, clean and aromatic. Bowls are substantial in size, cost $9.95 (except larger combo versions) and include a garnish plate of pristine bean sprouts, culantro, jalapeno wheels and lime quarters. Meat portions are on par with other establishments in the area.

In addition to the soups, the menu offers a couple vermicelli noodle plates topped with spring rolls and/or beef, foot-long banh mi sandwiches, and a platter of sweet, sticky and pleasantly chewy Korean-style short ribs ($10), served with rice and salad. Wash it all down with tall glasses of sugar cane juice ($5) brightened up with a squirt of fresh lime.

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Add a comment