Pho Tam: Love In Every Bite
Oct 11, 2018 09:05AM
Bun Tom Thit Nuona Cha Gio
Sometimes I feel as though I missed out as a kid by not having an “exotic” ethnic background. While my five brothers and I ate well on Midwestern staples like casseroles, ground beef 27 ways, and chicken and dumplings, I was never exposed to many “foreign” foods. Sure, Mom would surprise us on occasion with delicious, albeit inauthentic, attempts at lasagna, American tacos (I still love Mom’s fried tacos), and some sort of noodles with meat and soy sauce, but never the real deal; so I confess to a modicum of jealousy of Theresa—my hostess, culinary tour guide, and heir apparent to her family’s restaurant Pho Tam.
My appetizer was a favorite sandwich repackaged as its smaller, cooler cousin: bánh mi sliders. Filled with thin, tender (“thinder”) slices of charbroiled pork, cucumbers, tomato, shredded carrots, and a light version of bánh mi dressing on a soft Hawaiian-style roll, three to an order made for a guiltless shareable.
Next, Theresa recommended pineapple fried rice from the “summer menu.” This dish is always a hit with young ones—especially when served in the hollowed-out pineapple shell, which was exactly how Pho Tam served theirs. Stuffed with shrimp and other seafood, plus pineapple, and green onions, it was a hit for me as well…especially with a dash of the chili garlic sauce tempting me from the table’s condiment tray.
Following was a noodle entrée: bun tom thit nuong cha gio, aka #45. Actually, “the dish literally translates to what it is,” says Theresa. Regardless of how you pronounce it, the charbroiled pork, grilled shrimp, chilled rice vermicelli noodles, and light salad—with a crispy pork egg roll on top—was a colorful, crunchy bowl of freshness that’s officially a new favorite.
There’s much to say about my next selection: the eatery’s namesake pho. First, tam means heart and nowhere is this expressed more than in their pho. Second, they only use filet mignon in their soups with beef, which makes them one of the very few Vietnamese restaurants to do so. In my large bowl of pho tai, the melt-in-my-mouth filet—steeped in an aromatic, multidimensional broth featuring flavors of star anise, garlic, onions, ginger, bone marrow, and lemongrass—was definitely something to boast about.
And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, try the seasonally offered che ba mau (three-color dessert) under “beverages.” Like the Lucky Charms leprechaun used to say, “It’s magically delicious!”
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sunday); 11 a.m.-9 pm. (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday); 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Friday-Saturday); closed Tuesday
Try This: Appetizer Combo Plate, Bánh Mi Sliders, Pineapple Fried Rice, Pho Tai, Bun Tom Thit Nuong Cha Gio (#45), Lobster Tail Filet Mignon Noodle Soup, Shaken Beef, Thai Tea
Drinks: Beer and wine (coming soon)
Heads-Up: Pho available in small, medium, or large sizes; vegetarian options; filet mignon is the standard meat in their pho; kids’ menu; delivery available via DoorDash; house-made pho broth cooks for 14+ hours; catering and party trays; follow them on Facebook for specials
Pho Tam, 25004 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 121, Folsom, 916-542-7913 photamfolsom.com