Pho #1 is one of the first places we discovered together in the Lehigh Valley. With so many great restaurants in the area, we generally don’t go many places repeatedly- with the exception of this place (oh, and Clove), which should tell you how much we love this place. T is a huge fan of pho and Pho #1 serves some of the tastiest and most satisfying bowls of comfort Phood around (see what I did there??). While I love the pho, I also really enjoy their bun, or vermicelli bowls. Or, if you’re more of a rice and meat person, they have broken rice plates that have a scoop of rice served with a variety of meats. I should also mention that they have a great amount of vegetarian dishes. Drink-wise, they have bubble teas, thai iced tea, and some of the tastiest smoothies I have ever had (boba tapioca balls can- and should- be added to those as well).
T typically orders the #13 (yes, we have memorized all of our favorite numbers), which is the pho with charbroiled chicken. The broth is deep and rich and flavorful. Given this, the clarity of the broth is really remarkable. The pho bowls are served with the meat or veggies, thin sliced onions, and green onion. Then you get a plate of thai basil, crunchy bean sprouts, and fresh sliced jalapenos, with sriracha and plum sauce on the side. If you eat at the restaurant, there are a variety of spicy and salty condiments you can use to dress up your steaming bowl of pho. I have also tried the standard thinly sliced beef, the oddly satisfying chewy beef balls, and the shrimp. The beef broth is just as satisfying, rich, and comforting as the lighter broth used for the chicken and shrimp. All of the bowls always come with a good portion of the selected protein. The shrimp, for example, comes with 6 large, perfectly cooked tail-on shrimp– I should also note that they are well cleaned, which is greatly appreciated. I hate being served shrimp in a restaurant when I can clearly see the line of waste that hasn’t been cleaned. Ew.
As mentioned, I also really enjoy their Bun. I usually get #14- the combination bowl. It has a couple of fried spring rolls, charbroiled pork, grilled ground pork, and a couple of shrimp. The noodles are served cold with crisp and fresh sliced cucumbers, carrots, and shredded lettuce. Chopped peanuts and fish sauce accompany this combo platter. It’s a great mixture of warm and cold, as well as soft and crunch. I also really like that I can eat this whole bowl of fresh food and not feel bad afterwards- I feel full, but light as opposed to being weighed down by something heavy.
Oh! I can’t forget the summer rolls- we prefer the rolls that come with both shrimp and the charbroiled pork. Based on the variety, they come with a dipping sauce. The shrimp/pork variety are filled with vermicelli, cilantro, shredded lettuce, shrimp/pork, and are served with a delicious sweet/savory peanut sauce. They are fresh and light with a the perfect touch of heartiness from the shrimp and pork combo.
A couple of things to note regarding actual experiences in the restaurant: the dining room is relatively small, but it’s rarely super crowded. However, the service can be a little hit-and-miss. If you go in, you can’t necessarily expect to be waited on and served speedily. Knowing this, and knowing how good the food is,we have concluded that this is a price we are willing to pay. A lot of times, we will just call 20 minutes ahead and get our order to take home and eat at our leisure. They pack it up fantastically- the broth is in one large plastic container (which really comes in handy later- we have quite the collection in our cupboard!), and the meat, noodles, thinly sliced onions, and green onions are in a styrofoam container. Finally, they give you a plastic bag filled with the standard toppings and little containers of sriracha and plum sauce. The first time we ordered take-out, I was very pleasantly surprised when I opened it up to find this carefully prepared package. The score I have given for service largely reflects our experience with take-out as well. I would probably give a 6.5-7 for in-store, but I have adjusted to 7.5 to reflect take-out.
Generally, we love Pho #1- it’s casual, but comforting and satisfying. Prices are reasonable, quality is great, service is not phenomenal (but nowhere near a deal-breaker). Oh, and don’t forget to try the lychee shake with boba!