730 N Mills Ave Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 897-3488

Last Monday our friend Shirlee was making the eight hour drive from Miami to Tallahassee and, lucky for us, she decided to break the trip up into two parts and stay with us for a night (which I managed to turn into TWO nights when I convinced her the next day that she must go with us to the midnight opening of the new Harry Potter movie – more on the new theater we visited in one of my next posts).

Matthew was at work when she arrived to our apartment completely ravenous for Vietnamese food. We decided to walk to one of the closest restaurants to my house; Pho 88.

We were seated immediately, served drinks right away, and had one of the most eager and friendliest waiters I’ve ever seen. We were slow to look over the menu and were approached no less than four times to see if we were ready to order (and each time given smiles and reassurances to take our time).

Perusing the menu….oh, decisions, decisions.

I wasn’t very hungry and quickly decided on a constant favorite: Summer Rolls ($2.75) (which are oddly called “Spring Rolls” on the menu, despite always being a fried version when called by that name at every other Vietnamese restaurant I’ve visited). Noodles, herbs, shrimp, and pork wrapped in rice paper with peanut sauce for dipping.

I was happy from the first bite when I could tell that these had been freshly rolled. I’ve been so disappointed the past two or three visits at Little Saigon down the road when I was served old summer rolls. The wrappers were dried out and so tough you could barely chew through them – and there had been no herbs inside!

The rolls at Pho 88, however, had soft delicate wrappers and were full of crunchy bean sprouts and fresh mint. Perfect!

Shirlee decided on two dishes, the first of which was a light soup of rice noodles, vegetables, and tofu ($6.95).

Absolutely bursting with bright green veggies, onions, baby corn, and tofu. The broth was faintly sweet and very mellow with a slight hint if mushrooms and just a bit of saltiness (which is great considering most restaurants spoon in your daily recommended amount of sodium into a single bite)

I love that they serve “bonuses” to add to your soup, such as sprouts, limes, and a bowl of salt & pepper to season to your liking.

I would say this soup is a winner if you’re looking for something simple and comforting. Shirlee described it as eating “a bowl full of hugs”. I think that sums it up nicely.

Her second dish was the roasted quail ($4.95). These things are so teeny tiny! I’d never tried quail before but it was surprisingly good. What little meat that was there was very tender, slightly gamey, and had a crunchy sweetness from the crispy basted skin.

I thinks she was pondering every which way she could get that meat off the bone without swallowing it whole.

Full-on attack was the answer!

I was very happy with our meal, but the one big complaint I have about this restaurant is the inconsistency in service and food.

This most recent trip was a definite success, but just six months ago Matthew and I had an incredibly slow waiter that sat down to watch ESPN, never refilled our water glasses, and served bland meals that were different from their menu description (I blogged a little about our disappointing experience here http://imperrfections.blogspot.com/2009/01/saturday-night-matthew-and-i-decided-to.html).

So with that said, I’m rating solely on this visit.

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Attitude: 4/5
Cleanliness: 4/5

Phó 88 on Urbanspoon