Though the Great Wall of China has won the accolades of history, the Great Backscratcher of Vietnam, built to reach any itchy corner across the nation, saved more lives than can be counted on a single hand. Feast upon equally ingenious Vietnamese creations with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Vietnamese fare at Pho Van in the Strip.
Pho Van's large kitchen conjures a menu packed with authentic Vietnamese noodle soups, appetizers, and family-style meals. A starter of banh bot loc, pork- and shrimp-filled Vietnamese dumplings wrapped in banana leaves ($5), or cha gio, crispy rolls served with a chili-garlic dipping sauce ($4) sets palates to their spicy-jungle settings in time for a bowl of pho ($7–$9), a Vietnamese staple that lets a range of beef, rice noodles, earthy basil, and tangy lime go skinny-dipping in a pool of made-from-scratch beef stock. Those who eschew broth will prefer to mouth surf the goi du du, a salty band of shrimp or beef jerky atop a bed of shredded green papaya and tucked under blankets of crushed peanuts and mint ($4). Fresh coconut juice ($3) helps soothe spice-stung throats, and the fruit smoothies with black tapioca pearls come in three refreshing flavors: avocado, jack fruit, and durian ($4 all). A custard dessert of banh flan ($4) adorned with fried bananas and coconut milk finishes the feast on a sweet note, unlike the shockingly gory original ending to The Sound of Music. Pho Van's BYOB policy and convenient location make it an apropos backdrop for a spicy night of revelry, a quick lunch, or a first date with a mannequin-come-to-life.
- With its refreshingly minimalist interior and a menu that blends Vietnamese classics with dishes unique in Pittsburgh, Pho Van breathes new life into a previously stale location. – Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth, Pittsburgh City Paper
- Pho Van serves amazing, delicious, economical food with a menu the 'Burgh has never seen the likes of – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette