Making food from scratch typically requires advance preparation, adherence to a recipe, and your third and final genie wish. Save the third wish for more wishes with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Vietnamese cuisine at Pho Dakao.
The culinary adventurers at Pho Dakao craft a menu thick with traditional and subtly French-influenced Vietnamese flavors. Patrons can strap on snorkeling gear, zip up wetsuits, and go swimming in a tank of caramelized catfish or salmon ($10.95) before quieting their rumbling stomachs with pineapple-laden bites of sweet-and-sour chicken ($10.95). Potted plants dot the dining room, where black tablecloths swath tables brimming with bowls of duck noodle soup ($8.50) or spicy beef udon noodles ($8.50). Outside, the sidewalk sprouts scarlet and black umbrellas that shade al fresco diners and their freshly completed ice sculptures as they sample filet mignon sautéed with garlic and soy sauce ($11.95).
Embracing the regional Asian flavors and French influences that characterize so much of Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Dakao presents diners with comfort foods inspired by recipes from half a world away. Those deep roots are evident in the crispy spring rolls, the steamed bass with ginger and scallions, and the bowls of fragrant pho in which rare steak or vegetables are equally powerful. The recipes' French influences pop up from dish to dish, most notably in the rice powder crepe stuffed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. Cocktails here conspire to complement the food, and frosty beers and wines from Europe, South America, and the famous chardonnay-spewing geysers of California are also on the list.