Over the summer, in between hunting down lobster rolls at various Salem establishments, it was brought to my attention that one of the few things Salem is lacking is a place to get pho. Our fellow blogger William Legault told of stumbling upon a Vietnamese restaurant in Central Square, Lynn. He had not noticed the place previously and of course, took it upon himself to test the waters, as it were.
He teared up a little as he recounted for me the fragrant and tasty bowl of pho he had indulged in, though he swears it was just the sriracha making his eyes watery. Whatever helps you sleep at night man.
It was decided to put the call out to our little band of culinary adventurers and pay this place a visit. Bil wanted to show up with moving vans and transport the whole kit and caboodle to Salem but was convinced to tone it down to simply having dinner and making a plea to open in Salem.
10 of us ventured over to Pho Minh Ky in Lynn early on a Saturday evening. We had no problems getting a long table for us, and immediately set to ordering some starters. We kept it simple with a couple of plates of spring rolls to share and some shrimp toast. The spring rolls were lovely, with vermicelli and fresh veggies and a peanut satay sauce for dipping.
We pondered the menu as we sipped our tea, trying to decide from the dozens of choices. Beef or seafood pho, stir fried noodle plates, beef, chicken, pork, or vegetarian entrees, rice plates, steamed rice noodles; so many choices!
If you've never had pho (pronounced fah, not foe), you really should try it. It is basically a noodle soup, but very fragrant and flavorful. And chock full of noodles, meats, and vegetables. Very filling.
Pho Minh Ky offers their pho in three sizes; small ($6.45), large ($7.45), and extra large ($8.45). Personally I would call them large, extra large, and holy-cow-are-you-really-going-to-eat-all-that!? Most of us opted for the pho. There was Xe Lua (a combination with rare steak, well done brisket, beef flank, tendon and tripe), Tai, Gua (a small bowl of beef (Bo) noodle soup combining rare steak, and well done brisket), Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup), Mi Houc Hu Tieu Hai San (a bowl of noodle soup combining shrimp, imitation crab meat, squid and Vietnamese fish cake with a choice of yellow or white noodle), Mi Tieu Chau (yellow noodle soup, shrimp, squid, fish cake, fish balls, sliced pork and shrimp pan cake), Hu Tieu; Nam Vang Hoac My Tho (seafood and pork). Other dishes ordered were a vermicelli plate; Bun Heo Bo Hoac Ga (choice of grilled sliced pork, beef, or chicken with vermicelli), Bo Xao Curi (beef sauteed with curry, onions, carrots, baby corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, squash, broccoli and snow peas), and Dau Hu Xao Xa (tofu sauteed with lemon grass and toasted peanuts).
Plates of fresh thai basil, bean sprouts, and lime were brought out to garnish our soups. There was also a large bottle of Sriracha sauce, and two other jars of peppery stuff for those more adventurous than I.
My only regret was that I did not remember cilantro is often used in pho. I'm one of those for whom it tastes like soap. I'll certainly remember to ask them to hold it next time. Despite the cilantro slip, I happily slurped away at my soup. The broth was super tasty, the noodles soft, and the seafood and meat tender. I wish I had ordered a second one to take home to enjoy later.
They do not offer any deserts, although with the size of the dishes, I'm not sure you'd have room for it anyways.
The restaurant is sparsely decorated, but bright and clean with a friendly staff. They offer eat-in or take out, and also deliver. It is easy to find, and we had no trouble getting a parking space nearby. Salem has so many great restaurants, it's easy to forget there are other places to go.