Monday, September 5, 2016

Pho 515 in Des Moines

My mom's favorite food is pho, a Vietnamese rice noodle soup.  With my grandmother's visit ending, my mom decided to take us out to a pho restaurant for a farewell dinner before seeing Yai off at the airport.
My mom is a pho expert, and she wanted to make sure she got good authentic pho.  We went through the reviews of several of the Des Moines pho restaurants on Trip Advisor and Yelp, and she decided Pho 515 would be our best bet.

I hadn't been to a pho restaurant since we lived in Portland when I was 7 or 8...so, I didn't really have any idea what I was in for.  So, I listened to everyone else order, and then ordered a regular-size bowl of chicken pho ($6.95) and fresh coconut juice with meat ($3.50).  
Mama ordered a large bowl of medium-rare eye round beef pho ($8.50), and my papa and brother went for Vietnamese beef stew ($7.50)  Other family members tried crab rangoon, vegan pho, well done beef flank pho, spring rolls, and bubble tea.

With our pho we got plates with basil, peppers, lime slices, and bean sprouts.  I added some bean sprouts to my pho, and squeezed in some lime (lime was awesome!).

The portion sizes were overwhelmingly generous.  I thought my pho was delicious to start out with. I did have an interesting time trying to eat with chopsticks, but I eventually got the hang of it.  Half-way through the bowl, I was very full and could not finish.
The coconut was as fresh as coconuts in Iowa can get.  Unfortunately though, I was spoiled as a child living on the coast with very fresh, green coconuts we'd buy at a Korean store...so my coconut expectations are a little higher than attainable here in the Midwest.

As for what I heard from other family members, the vegan pho got a rating of very good.  The stew had too much fat.  The red bean bubble tea was "interesting."  The strawberry bubble tea was a winner--sort of like a strawberry shake with jello in it.  The crab rangoon was delicious.  And my mom says the beef pho was perfect--exactly what good pho is supposed to taste like.
The waiters were very attentive, cheerful, and friendly.  The dining area was bright, clean, and tastefully decorated.  It was a very pleasant dining experience.  The restaurant is inside an Asian market, so I looked around and did some shopping.

That was an interesting experience.  There were ducks hanging in the meat department.  One section smelled very strongly of fish, and there were items such as yucca and pickled grapes. 

Perhaps most interesting of all was having a friendly gentleman remark, "It's nice to see another white person in here."  I was speechless for a moment, but quickly regained my senses and proceeded to inform him that I was actually a red-headed Thai girl.  "Half-Thai?" he asked.  "No, 1/4th.  My grandma's Thai." 

I bet I'm the most Scot-Irish-looking Thai he'll ever meet.

Have you ever eaten pho?  What are your favorite Asian foods?

38 comments:

  1. I have never eaten pho. My favourite Asian foods are Spring rolls, garlic spare ribs, chicken fried rice and chicken chow mein. This looks like a very nice place, Bethany, and the food looks filling and satisfying. From the expressions on the faces in your photos, it looks to me as if everyone enjoyed their meal! :)

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    1. Oh, my grandma made some good chow mein for us when she was here! And fried rice is a favorite treatment for our leftover rice around here. I just made some today for dinner, but have a feeling I messed up the recipe a little (if that's possible!). Fortunately, I had just come back from the dentist's office. and my mouth was still numb, so I didn't have to try it myself. :D

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  2. I HAVE NOT EATEN ASIAN FOOD I DO NOT LIKE IT

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  3. Sounds like an interesting day, indeed! So happy you could enjoy it with your family. :) That makes any day more special. I know you will miss your grandmother and hope it isn't too long before you can see her again! God bless her with safe travel.

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    1. Amen. Hopefully it won't be another six years!

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  4. Hmm, I have never eaten pho.
    I do not know how it tastes.
    The restaurant looks very elegant and clean.

    Greeting from the distant Polish.
    Lucja

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    1. It was a nice place. Thanks for visiting, Lucja!

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  5. Wow that medium size bowl looks bigger than your mother. : )
    I've never eaten pho.
    I like all the sweet and sour Asian foods and love hot spicy beef.

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    1. My mom's bowl is large-size; we were shocked at how big it was when it arrived! I thought my medium bowl was huge!

      Oooh, sweet and sour is completely awesome. I think chicken with sweet and sour sauce is one of my all-time favorites--though I'm not sure if it beats sesame chicken.

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  6. Long ago I had pho and thought it was delicious. My attempts at cooking Asian food at home have often been disappointing. My daughter in law who was born in Korea is a good cook but lives in NY so I rarely get to enjoy eating the food she makes. I'm glad you had a good visit with Yai and hope it is not too long before you can visit again. xx

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    1. I am hoping the same. Awesome that you have a daughter-in-law who can cook good Korean food! You will have to try to talk her into moving closer to you!

      My piano teacher in Portland was a wonderful Korean lady, and many of my fellow students were Korean as well. After recitals there would be potlucks, and it was always interesting to see the foods there! I guess the ones that made the biggest impression on me were kimchi and seaweed. One time she sent home some hard candies with us, flavored eucalyptus and seaweed. I thought the eucalyptus candy was great, but wasn't a big fan of the seaweed candy!

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  7. I grew up as an Air Force Brat and had the great honor of having friends with moms from all around the world. I love Asian food. Glad to see your family had a good dining experience!

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    1. That is awesome! You must have been able to try a great variety of authentic cuisines!

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  8. not my favorite food choice. but i'm glad you had a chance to try it as a family. :)

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  9. Oh pho is SO yummy!! I like it a lot - but it's probably my Dad's favorite of all. We have a Vietnamese restaurant we love to go to that makes a delicious pho with all the stir-ins and THE BEST Vietnamese egg rolls with a fish sauce kind of dipping sauce in the world!! And their tea is always so good, but they also do a super yummy Vietnamese iced coffee with I think some kind of coconut cream or sweetened condensed milk combo to it. I love Asian cuisine and could eat it so often!! I'm not sure about Thai restaurants much in my area right now - but we have a few pretty good local sushi places too (which I also love). ;) I think it's so cool you have some Thai heritage.

    Thanks for sharing Bethany! xoxo

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    1. Wow! It certainly sounds like you know where to find good Asian food! My mom keeps a bottle of fish sauce (น้ำปลา) around at our house. When I was little, we used it all the time instead of soy sauce on our rice. But then I got converted to being a soy-sauce-eater, and now I just really am not fond of the aroma of fish sauce, so I haven't given it a try lately.

      The restaurant you described sounds great! You should do a review of it sometime. :)

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  10. I've never had pho, but your description sounds good.
    I agree, that you don't look very Thai! Your Mom is very pretty and I think you look a lot like her, with read hair. :)

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    1. I do have a very beautiful mother. It's actually pretty fun having a heritage I don't think anyone could ever guess. :)

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  11. This looks like a fun, delicious experience! I've never had pho before. The coconut juice has good presentation; it's too bad it could be fresher.
    Haha! That's an amusing story. I can kind of relate with my Hispanic heritage and nearly translucent skin. >.<

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    1. Awesome that you can relate! Thanks for stopping by, Paige!

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  12. I've never had pho but from the photo I can see that I would love it! Thai food in a huge favourite. Well, I love Asian food in general. When we were living in our hometown, there was an Asian supermarket near our home that I would visit regularly for unique items that I couldn't find anywhere else. It sure came in handy when I needed to pick up ingredients for certain recipes.

    There are so many Asian foods that I enjoy. A few include won ton soup (oh my gosh, I love that!), steamed rice, General Tso's chicken, hunan dumplings (I've only found these in my hometown), lemon chicken, Cantonese chow mein, beef with broccoli and a whole lot more. Yummy!

    Great review. It sounds like a really nice place and it also sounds like everyone had a lovely time.

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    1. Ooh, I always knew you had good tastes, Martha! Your list of Asian foods is making me hungry! General Tso's chicken sounds particularly good, but my grandma treated us to some pretty good chow mein while she was here.

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  13. I will be laughing all day about the "white person" comment as it related to yourself. Love it! Have a great day Bethany!

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  14. What a delightful dining experience. The portions do look large!

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    1. I do not think they will ever get a review complaining about skimping on the portion size! They gave us our money's worth.

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  15. Very funny at what you said to him and oh my gosh, I love those bowls. I'm big into eating out of bowls with sticks. So flippin' fun.

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    1. Heh! I love you phrase that. It definitely was not boring. They gave us soup spoons as well, but I don't think those would have worked very well with the noodles. They were for the broth. Eating with chopsticks was fun.

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  16. Hello Bethany!:) This looks like a very nice restaurant. If we ever we go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I think we'll order the crab rangoon and the stawberry bubble tea,:) and hope it's as good as the one you had. We were in Vietnam in 1970, and tried a lot of Vietnamese food and found it to be very tasty. I laughed at the comment about you!! Have a good day.:)

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    1. Awesome that you got to try some authentic Vietnamese food while you were in Vietnam. 1970 was a troubled year in that country. Blessings to you!

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  17. I've never had this kind of food before. It did sound tasty though.

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  18. Oh yes I forgot the "white person" comment reminded me of being in Arches national park and seeing some "white" people that we thought we could talk to after seeing so many Oriental tourist. As they got close enough though we realized that while they were white people they were from a foreign country like Sweden as they weren't speaking English!

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    1. Heh! Appearances can be deceiving. Thanks for sharing your story. :)

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  19. I have eaten a very similar food here in my country. It is called "chifa", and it is a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian food. It tastes delicious and with us there are a large amount of Chinese Restaurants, which are named Chifas. In Lima there is a little China Town, where live many Oriental people. One of the most popular dishes is the so called "arroz chaufa", which is made from rice, eggs, vegetables and meat.

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    1. Arroz chaufa must be fried rice! We've eaten it many times...and it can be very good. Chifa looks interesting. Thanks for mentioning these dishes!

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