Recently celebrating their three year anniversary, Simply Pho Vietnamese restaurant has brought a whole different experience to the Carrollwood community. Born in Vietnam, owners, and brothers Anthony Pham and Thai Bao Pham had a dream of sharing their love of Vietnamese food and culture with the rest the world and decided to start right here in Carrollwood. And, for the past year, they have experienced overwhelming support from the community, acquiring quite a loyal following of customers who absolutely love the flavorful creations and unique options on their menu.
As Anthony was recently deployed overseas in the Air Force, I had the pleasure of speaking with his wife Loann Nguyen. “My husband and his brother had this vision of introducing authentic Vietnamese food to the Carrollwood community,” says Anthony’s wife Loann. “A place where people can get healthy options and unique food at a great price. We want to thank our customers for their support over the past year and for so graciously welcoming us into their community.”
Using fresh, all-natural ingredients, Simply Pho’s menu is an excellent representation of Vietnamese cuisine, offering flavorful dishes that not only taste great, but are good for you as well. Healthy is a word that came up numerous times throughout my interview with Loann. She says, “Vietnamese food is in itself very healthy. From the herbs and spices to the fresh ingredients, our menu gives you many different healthy options to choose from.”
As their name indicates, Pho is their specialty. A Vietnamese delicacy, Pho is a staple in the Vietnamese diet and is loaded with nutrients and minerals that come from the beef-based broth. “Pho is a main meal in Vietnam; many eat it daily – some even eat it three times a day, seven days a week,” says Loann. The broth is made out of beef stock, that is simmered for 25 hours. This allows it to absorb all the proteins, minerals and nutrients from the beef. Then we add noodles and your choice of protein, such as chicken, beef or seafood, with the option to upgrade to filet mignon or Kobe beef. For those who are vegetarians, we also offer a vegetable-based broth and you can add other vegetables to your Pho.”
Loann says, “A lot of times when new customers come and read the menu description about Pho, they don’t really know that it’s actually a full meal. Even though it’s a noodle soup, it’s a big portion. Most new customers are surprised when the bowl comes out and they realize how much food there is.”
Seeing as how this is their specialty, there was no way I was leaving without first trying some of their Pho. Loann recommended the beef Pho. Loann was right – the portion size was huge! Loaded with rice noodles, and tender, juicy beef, and served in a flavorful, yummy broth, from the first bite I was hooked!
Served alongside the Pho is a variety of herbs and vegetables, including basil, bean sprouts and jalapeños, depending on the flavors you want to add. Sitting down with me, Loann guided me on the proper way to eat Pho. She says, “What I tell my customers, is to always try the broth first to make sure it is to your liking. Every Vietnamese restaurant has their own way of creating the broth. If you want it sweeter, add Hoisin sauce; if you want it spicier add Sriracha. Those two main sauces always go with Pho. If our both is to your liking leave it the way it is.”
In my case the broth was perfect – no need to change a thing!
Loann continued, “Next you stir up the broth to mix the noodles and protein and add whatever herbs and vegetables you want; I usually squeeze a little lime in there as well.”
Taking her advice, I added some bean sprouts and basil and squeezed a little lime into it. The result was amazing! A lot of times when you have healthy food, you sacrifice flavor and taste, this is not the case with their Pho! For as healthy as it is, the flavor was incredible!
Feeling a little sick or under the weather? Pho is the perfect remedy!
“Because of all the minerals and nutrients, there are many health benefits from eating Pho,” says Loann. “It can help to get rid of headaches, and helps to boost the immune system and digestive system, as well as aiding in the regulation of the body. On the weekends many of our customers will come in here after a night out to help them feel better.”
Not in the mood for Pho? Not to worry, there are many other tantalizing options that are sure to get your taste buds excited! Taking traditional Vietnamese recipes and adding their own special touch, the Pham brothers have created uniquely delicious selections for every taste and preference. With a huge selection of gluten-free and Vegetarian options, their menu features a fantastic variety of dishes, including appetizers such as their fried or steamed dumplings, crab rangoon, roasted quails, spring rolls and egg rolls, as well as a few Vietnamese salads to choose from.
The rest of their menu is just as diverse, with a whole section devoted to a variety of noodle preparations; with your choice of soft Vermicelli Noodles or Vietnamese Angel Hair Noodles topped with their mouth watering marinated grilled meats and served with lettuce, bean sprouts, sliced cucumber, crushed peanuts and accompanied by a house fish sauce. There is also a section for stir-fried noodles, rice platters, and chef’s specials, which include Shaking Beef Steak and Braised Duck. New to the menu is their Beef Short Ribs Platter – which is sure to satisfy!
They have also recently introduced the Salmon Rice Platter, which is set to be on their menu this March. Served in a teriyaki sauce and topped with onions and cilantro, this generous portion of salmon is grilled to perfection and accompanied by a side of steamed vegetables and steamed rice – yum!
Simply Pho also serves beer, wine and sake, so you can always choose to add a refreshing libation to perfectly accompany your meal.
At Simply Pho the presentation of the food, is just as important as the food itself, allowing you to eat with your eyes before you even take the first bite. Then as you smell the alluring aroma of the spices and herbs, you are instantly drawn in and before you even take the first bite, you have already begun the experience. And that’s just it – at Simply Pho, it’s about the whole experience; from when you initially walk in and are warmly greeted by a smiling face, to the elegantly welcoming atmosphere and exceptional service, to the incredible presentation and authentic quality of the food. At Simply Pho you get the full Vietnamese experience!
“I used to live in New York and have had Vietnamese food from many different places,” says server Sam, “I believe in their food so much that I drive all the way from Riverview just to work here. The food speaks for itself. I am a true believer that if the food is good, everything else will fall into place in a restaurant. I love it here. From the ambiance to the service to the food, we have the whole package!”
Simply Pho is located in the Palms of Carrollwood on the NE corner of Fletcher and Dale Mabry at 13149 N Dale Mabry Hwy in Tampa. They are open Sun. – Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. For more information please call (813) 960- 5678, visit their website at www.SimplyPhoTampa.com or like them on Facebook at Simply Pho & Grill.