Walking in the door, I am welcomed by a large-size golden Buddha. He greets me with his full belly and a happy wide smile, the sounds of numerous TVs around the dining area and random chit chat is part of the usual scene at Pho888. Located on the Second Avenue near the Asian Market, it is one of the gems in Des Moines. Good food, good people and great place to experience a little piece of Vietnam.
To the point – Pho888 is the Best Vietnamese Restaurant in Des Moines! I will honor it as “The Des Moines Gem” because it’s often overlooked over the more ‘popular’ Vietnamese places. Let me back off a little here to take some time and explain why I love this place…
My wife and I absolutely fanatic about Vietnamese food. She is a huge fan of Pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup with Rice noodles, spices and chicken broth. Me, on the other hand, well… you can call me The-Guy-Who-Eats-Weird-Stuff. Being born in the poor Eastern European country where we ate everything: from the pig ears to blood sausage, so I was born to always try new things and never be afraid. It’s all food, anyways, and sometimes, this ‘weird’ food is extremely tasty!
I will make it short: I personally have been to the top-rated Vietnamese places in Des Moines: A Dong, TNT, Cafe Fuzion and Saigon Cafe.
Let me just give short reviews: TNT is probably my second favorite after Pho888. A Dong is the worst: we have been there 2 times but every time our food was brought in 5 minutes, the beef in Pho tasted like freezer, it was tough and old, the spring rolls with shrimp were awful, it was fishy and rice paper was tough. A Dong’s version of #26 was horrible: the pork was overcooked and dry, the shrimp, again, was fishy and tasteless. I was disappointed twice with my wife and we haven’t gone there in almost 3 years.
This is the List of Our Favorites
Get #26 – It Will Blow Your Hat Off!
#26 is my favorite. After trying all the weird items off the menu, I am stuck on this one and I get it every time we go to Pho888. It’s called Bun Cha Gio: vermicelli with grilled pork, shrimp, egg rolls and vegetables. It is the best in town, trust me. The vegetables are always fresh and crisp, pork is one of the most flavorful and tender pieces of meat I have eaten anywhere, it’s perfectly charred on the outside and never dry or overcooked. It’s a masterpiece. The same pork is used in their Banh Mi sandwiches.
Go get it, now!
Want more traditional item?
Traditional Vietnamese? Get #21 – It’s Pho-n-Tastic!
This is my wife’s favorite and I tend to agree with her that it’s a really-really tasty soup. Beware though – if you rarely try new things or pretty picky about food, you might not like this item. It takes some people who enjoy this cousine, as this dish symbolizes an interesting mix of fresh vegetables and raw meat. It might seem strange, but it works really well together when you combine all the ingredients: fresh piece of lime (squeezed into the soup), some Sriracha and Hoisin sauce, raw beef, a handful of mint and Thai basil , some bean sprouts, and cilantro with the hot broth and rice noodles. You have to try eat to experience the explosion of flavors, and it is just good!
The Last but Not Least
Banh Mi Sandwich With Pork #14
Okay, I am not a big fan of subs usually but this is the only sub I will ever eat. Most people do not even know that Vietnamese food was heavily effected by French cooking. For a good reason – Vietnam has been the French colony for almost 230 years. The Banh Mi is simply a sub that uses meat of your choice and a toasted french bread, plus add some herbs and asian spices and you get the most amazing sub you will ever have (in Des Moines at least).
Well, I hope you enjoyed my review, definitely for adventurous spirits and someone who wants to experience some good food and have the best Vietnamese cousine, check out this place, it is much better than places I mentioned before.