Downtown gets superior Vietnamese cuisine with Le Pho

Find Vietnamese deliciousness at Le Pho. From left to right: Pho dipped sandwich, lotus root salad, ribeye pho, ginger chicken, Le Pho roll.
Photo: Jon Estrada

The Downtown culinary revolution continues with the recent opening of Le Pho inside Juhl. Although distinctly Vietnamese, it’s the love child of fan favorites Le Thai—arguably the harbinger of the new wave of Downtown dining—and Chinatown’s edgy District One. With this pedigree, it should come as no surprise that Le Pho is a complete success.

What’s greatest is that it explores a variety of Vietnamese dishes, so much so that you don’t even need to order its namesake dish. If you do insist on partaking of Le Pho’s pho, the ribeye rendition ($10) is hearty and holds serve with other local versions. The pho dipped ($12) is a creative take on the French dip with a side bowl of soup for dipping your beef brisket banh mi sandwich. But there’s so much more throughout the menu.

Le Pho's <em>pho</em> dipped sandwich, a creative take on the French dip with a side bowl of <em>pho</em> for dipping.

Le Pho's pho dipped sandwich, a creative take on the French dip with a side bowl of pho for dipping.

Start the journey with Grandma’s grilled pork ($9) or the Le Pho roll ($7). The former offers smoky, bite-sized, crispy piggy goodness, while the latter is strongly flavored with five-spice pork and scallion oil. Even the traditional spring rolls ($7) are a fresh take on the standard with shrimp, pork and sharp mint.

Entrée-wise, the Ben Thành Market fried rice ($12), named for a swap meet-esque market in the middle of Ho Chí Minh City, is strewn with funk. The wok-fried ginger chicken ($10) tiptoes the line to cloying; you’d be well-served to cut it with some accompanying steamed rice. You can even feast readily on salads, with either the fish sauce-tinged lotus root salad ($10) served on rice crackers layered with pork and shrimp, or the watercress beef salad ($12) tossed with ginger-soy vinaigrette.

Wildly interesting is the Vietnamese crepe ($15), stuffed with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and mung beans while inexplicably hinting of vanilla. Traditionally, the dish is eaten with your hands, so forego fork and knife and grab the thick pancake instead. Le Pho is all about exploration, so head over and start digging around.

Le Pho 353 Bonneville Ave. #115, 702-382-0209. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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Jim Begley

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