I had no clue what to expect from Pho Don, a new restaurant on Germantown Ave. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant’s colorful streamers, strewn across the “Grand Opening” sign, signified the restaurant’s newness and made it easy to spot. Despite being in an unfamiliar area, Pho Don’s simple interior and peaceful music made me feel at ease.
I was immediately greeted by a waiter who handed me a menu containing pictures of every food offered. There was an overwhelming amount of options with multiple appetizers, salads, cơm (rice platters), vermicelli, banh mis (sandwiches), and pho. The priciest item on the menu was $9.00. Most items were around $7.00, depending on the portion you wanted. I ordered an iced vietnamese coffee, unique for its use of condensed milk. The coffee was strong but sweet and came in a plastic to-go cup just as I was ready to order. I ordered the flank steak Pho, BBQ Chicken Vermicelli, and the Sunny Side Up Egg Banh Mi. I had never seen the option for a fried egg inside of a banh mi and was curious to see how the flavors would work together.
The service was consistently prompt, with our dishes served shortly after we ordered them. I decided to try the Pho first as a tribute to the name of the restaurant: Pho Don. The flank steak came pre-cooked in the soup and was a little tough. However, like the noodles, it complemented the broth’s hearty flavor. If given the opportunity, I would choose a different variation of pho, because although the steak was slightly overdone, the rest of the soup was enjoyable.
The BBQ vermicelli was delicious. On a bed of chopped lettuce, the crunchy shallots and peanuts worked with rice noodles and sweet chicken to create a refreshingly nutty masterpiece. It was truly the nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese fish sauce, that brought the dish to life. Unfortunately, the chicken was only sparingly seasoned with barbecue sauce, though it absorbed the sweet nuoc cham well. I could not get enough of this vermicelli, but I needed to taste the last, and personally most exciting, dish I had ordered: the Sunny Side Up Banh Mi.
Upon my first bite, I was met with a wonderful combination of flavors. The mayonnaise seeped perfectly into warm fluffy bread, pairing well with the pickled carrots and cucumbers. These are familiar flavors for a banh mi; I was curious if the egg would add or subtract from the hoagie-like sandwich. Though I specified that I wanted a runny yolk, the yolk I got was closer to the consistency of a soft boiled egg: not completely cooked, but not runny. Still, the egg paired well with the crispy bun, warm mayonnaise, and refreshing vegetables. I would definitely order the Sunny Side Up Egg Banh Mi again.
Despite being a relatively new addition to Germantown, Pho Don’s authentic dishes do not disappoint. The restaurant has already begun to shine in catering meetings for Governor Tom Wolf, Council President Darrell Clarke, and State Senator Sharif Street. I highly recommend paying a visit to Pho Don for their delicious, yet affordable, food.