January 20, 2012

Pho Lang Thang

Pho Lang Thang has been on my mind for months so with the day off work I made my way over to Findlay Market and finally managed for our paths to cross.  I'm not navigationally savvy when it comes to the market's layout but after 2 full trips up and down the length of it I eventually found the restaurant's location on Elder Street.

Entering Pho Lang Thang at the height of the lunch rush was chaotic but I was quickly calmed by the beautiful aroma; the aroma I can still smell as I type this as it lingers on my clothes.  If you're looking to avoid crowds and a wait, during the week at least, I suggest going no earlier than 1pm.  By the time I left at 1:15 there was no longer a wait for table service and the to-go orders had died down.

It was less than a 10 minute wait for a seat at a long, narrow high-top table with bar stools and I shared my lunch with the strangers who happened to be seated next to me.  I heard one customer mention the dramatic increase in business as he waited for his food, apparently he used to be able to come in and sit down right away with no wait.  A great thing for Pho Lang Thang and a bad thing only if you have a Bahn Mi habit and zero patience.

I waited about another 15 minutes to place my order but I was understanding as I had no specific place to be and was quite entertained observing the flow of the restaurant.  I chose the pork Bahn Mi (pork sandwich) and Pho Bo (rice noodle bowl) in a beef broth with brisket.  You can order the Bahn Mi and the Pho Bo with your choice of meat; vegetarian versions of both dishes are also offered.  After I placed my order the server repeated back to me "so you want the Bahn Mi and the Pho Bo?"  I guess this is technically two entrees but I wanted soup and sandwich, what can I say?
The rice noodle bowl was decent and had a light delicate flavor, I could have sworn it had either a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg but I can't be sure.  At first glance it appeared to have an appropriate noodle to broth ratio, but the noodles seemed to multiply as I stirred.  This is a much more substantial dish than I anticipated and I ended up only eating half of it.  The Pho Bo is also served with a side dish of garnishes including: bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno and cilantro.  I wasn't certain if the garnish went with the sandwich or the noodle bowl and didn't get a chance to ask my server. When she came back to box up my food she apologized and informed me the garnish went with the noodles.  I don't think I missed on anything but perhaps the jalapeno would have added some depth.
I made the picture of the Bahn Mi extra large so you would be extra jealous when you see all the yum in this bun.  Oy. The airy french-like bread has a very thin crust and successfully absorbs the marinade from the pork and the garlic butter mayo. The bread is not dense in the least; perfect for containing all the insides of this sandwich including: grilled marinated pork, garlic butter mayo, pickled carrots and daikon (white radish), cucumber and cilantro.  The marinade can take credit for most of the amazing flavor and it meshes with the other toppings in an uncanny sort of way, which as I mentioned before, could create a habit i don't need.

Oh!  I almost forgot, I also tried the Vietnamese limeade.  It was refreshing and a welcome reminder of summer on this 20 degree day; it didn't have a fake green tint so I know it was home-made.

I boxed up half of each dish to take home and then headed back into the market for a little shopping.  White chili spice from Colonel De's, and one hunk each of New York sharp cheddar and Mexican white cheese from Krause's .

No matter the weather, there's never a bad time for Dojo.  Today I did half churro half pistachio.  The churro tasted amazingly like churro batter and although it was frozen, the cinnamon notes seemed to warm me up.  I didn't want this cup to end.

Pho Lang Thang on Urbanspoon

Dojo Gelato on Urbanspoon


  1. Sounds delicous. I'm going to Vietnam in April, but I've been meaning to check out Pho Lang Thang. It looks exquisite. Theres also another Vietnamese Rest. in Roselawn on Section Rd. right before you get to Reading Rd. its on the left side. It's very traditional. All the way to the Vietnamese beer. I can't wait to go on my trip. My son has been there for about 14 months now on business. So I'm going for a visit. While I'm there we'll be visiting Cambodia, Hanoi, and China. Thanks for your info on Pho Lang

    1. Laura, you will not be disappointed with Pho Lang Thang. Thanks for your recommendation on the other local Vietnamese restaurant, I will add it to my list:) I've also heard there is a small place in the downtown public library that serves some Vietnamese cuisine.

      Enjoy your trip- I'm sure you will experience all kinds of delicious food!

  2. You definitely missed out by not adding the extras to your pho! Did you add hoison sauce and/or sriracha? Those extras are how you personalize your pho. There is also usually some basil on the side plate - all of those add depth and dimension. Did you have the pate on your bahn mi? Also makes a big difference!

    1. Thanks, this is so helpful! I will definitely add the extras to the Pho next time I'm in; including the hoison and sriracha. I'll have to work my way up to the pate:)

    2. You should also ask for fish sauce for an extra boost of umami to the pho. Or just enjoy the broth pure. So many choices. :D