Pho Cuong, a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant in northeast Wichita, opened in September in a space that has held many restaurants over the years, Koi Fusion and Samurai Japanese Grill among them.
Pho Cuong, though, is getting it right. Its recipe for success? Mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes and phenomenal service that easily surpasses most pho restaurants in town.
ON THE MENU: Pho Cuong’s updated menu includes traditional Vietnamese dishes such as steamed rice plates and pho noodle soups. The selection of appetizers includes the standard spring rolls, egg rolls and crab wontons, and the restaurant also serves banh mi, a classic Vietnamese sandwich ($2.95-$4.75).
DON’T-MISS DISHES: There is not a dish I wouldn’t recommend at Pho Cuong, but if I had to suggest a personal favorite it would be B21: bun thit nuong cha gio, which is vermicelli noodles topped with charbroiled sliced pork and egg roll ($7.50). The entree arrives heaping with pork, grilled fresh and served with a real flame-broiled flavor, plus julienne cucumber, green onion, carrot, sprigs of fresh mint, shredded lettuce, and peanuts resting on a bed of the slender noodles. A sliced egg roll and a bowl of fish sauce come on the side and perfectly complete it. I’ve repeatedly ordered this dish despite the fact that the pho noodle soup with brisket (small $5.65, medium $6.65, large $7.65) is also a favorite. We also ordered fresh spring rolls ($3.50), which come two to an order and are large and stuffed with fresh shrimp, crisp vegetables and noodles and serve as the perfect starter.
Also, be sure to try a large bowl of P4: pho tai nam, a savory soup swimming with noodles in a light beef broth, eye round steak and well-done flank ($8.25). (A plate with copious amounts of Thai basil, sprouts, and sliced jalapeno accompany pho noodle bowls.)
AMBIENCE: While the dishes’ flavors are bold, the restaurant’s atmosphere is not. Pale yellow walls with a mural of koi fish set a simple tone. However, don’t be surprised to find yourself distracted by flat-screen TVs featuring an ESPN sporting event. The restaurant is extremely clean.
PRICE RANGE: A bargain. Appetizers are under $5. Entrees are $6.25 to $8.25. Three fruit smoothies make up the dessert menu and are $2.95 each. The menu, which does not include children’s dishes, warns that “prices can change without notice.”
SERVICE: Pho Cuong employees are cordial and make a point to refill your water glass and ask if you’re enjoying your meal. Diners are expected to seat themselves but may have a hard time finding a seat during the lunch hour, but employees quickly clean vacated tables.