Monday, June 28, 2010

Pho Le

The Bobcat & I love Vietnamese food. Richly savory broth with fresh herbs & lime, usage of pungent fish sauce, shrimp paste, refreshingly delicious spring rolls and rice crepes... we love it all. It's almost a weekly ritual when we stay in the city. But when we don't spend the weekend in the city, we miss it dearly. For a while, we got our fix at Tay Do. This restaurant also introduced us to beef spring rolls -- which was VERY delicious, even better than their shrimp counterpart. I didn't care that the chairs / tables were sticky. I ignored the fruit flies that accompanied the sauces. It was that good. But alas, all good things come to an end. Since Tay Do, nothing else stood up nor gotten close to our expectations (nay to Vietnamese Bistro, nay to Pho Ha in Naperville (which closed down anyway).
My parents aren't fans of going out to eat, but they do love a good bowl of pho. So that added to why I really wanted to find a decent V. place to go to in the western burbs.
I was feeling ill over the weekend, and did not want to make dinners. I suggested Yokohama for their udons/sobas/sukiyaki... or Joy Yee's for their Hainan Chicken (which, I STILL want to try)...but the husband wanted pho. After a brief search on Yelp, we decided on trying Pho Le in Carol Stream.
It's a small place in a strip mall, 10 tables or so. The menu has the basics, including sandwiches. We made eye contact with the young man at the counter right away, and he pointed towards a two-seater table. On a Saturday night, the place was 85% full. A flatscreen tv plays Vietnamese music. Our server came to us right away to take our order:

Spring Rolls
solid. tightly wrapped, fresh ingredients, nicely flavored pork. well-balanced. as usual, I requested nuoc mam (good balance of sour/slightly sweet, slightly spicy).
Pho Tai
solid. broth was a little oily, but flavorful, and you can really taste the elements that was slowly drawn into the soup. meat wasn't already well-done (raw pieces present)--which is perfect. So little restaurants manage this for some reason (even though they describe Pho Tai as rare beef). The plate of ingredients were decently fresh -- typical sprouts, basil, lime, jalepeno peppers, sawtooth herb, and they also had mixed thinly sliced cabbage.
Noodles with shrimp paste & crab meat (forgot to write the name down)
very good. looked red & oily, but it wasn't that spicy at all. definitely closer to mild. rich broth, strong flavors, very delicious.
We found it we found it we found a gem! This place will DEFINITELY hold our cravings over when we go on a Chicago/Argyle hiatus. Yay!
As a side note, the servers accidentally gave us the wrong bill. They only charged us for 2 bowls of pho. Since we were coming from a church service that TALKED about lying, we definitely did not want to just be lazy & walk away. Since our credit card was already charged, it ended up getting slightly complicated. Everything was resolved in the end -- they were grateful.
Can't wait to go back!!
Pho Le
541 S Schmale Rd
Carol Stream, IL 60188
(630) 588-8299

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