It’s pretty easy to find Vietnamese food in Austin, Texas and one place you definitely want to check out for casual pho is Pho Van, located in the Asian plaza next to Target on the north side of 183. It shares a strip mall together with Din Ho Chinese BBQ, Coco’s Cafe, and Julie’s Noodles. The adjacent strip mall that’s in walking distance is Ramen Tatsuya and the Hong Kong supermarket.
This Asian plaza is an incredible gem in North Austin by car from downtown Austin as it has a variety of Asian cuisine options at a reasonable price. We’ve visited Pho Van for the past few years now alongside a few other pho places, and after much internal debate and deliberation, we can safely say that Pho Van is our favorite go-to place for pho. What Pho Van has that keeps on coming is the healthy budget for our wallet, authentic broth and taste, accessible location, and the kind grandma who is always there!
When you walk in, it’s pretty casual dining, no dress code really, and it’s a quick eat and go kind of place. There are plenty of tables, and hardly any wait because the long line is always at Ramen Tatsuya instead.
Ordering Pho #1 & Fried Egg Rolls
A small bowl of pho is only $7.50. Even though the larger bowl is only $1.00 more, it’s not worth it if you are watching your weight. But it is totally worth it if you are that hungry and should be eating that much. Like all my choosings of food around the world, this comes to no surprise that I am also pretty basic on my selection of Vietnamese food and will be sharing with you guys the pho I love most – noodles and thin layers of beef. At Pho Van, that is the Number 1 “Pho Tai – Eye round steak”.
For the fried egg rolls at $4.00 for two rolls an order, they are really a Vietnamese version of fried spring rolls as the ingredients inside are traditionally wrapped with spring roll wrappers. On the side, you get a Vietnamese Fish dipping sauce (also called Nuoc Mam Cham). When it comes out, it can be freaking hot in temperature, because they literally just fried it – so, be cautious!
Pho Van vs Tan My vs Heo Eatery
Born and raised in Michigan, there is a large Vietnamese community and growing up with Vietnamese friends, I’ve been blessed to be able to be taught about the authenticity of broth and what to look for in a broth. The reason why Pho Van is on my top recommended list is that its the perfect balance of healthy and unhealthy. Tan My is a delicious pho shop, and we went there a lot because their pho and fried egg rolls were off the charts – but I always knew that there was just a lot of msg and sugar in their pho that was so heavy, I felt it.
As for Pho Van, they don’t make it like that, but it’s like halfway in-between. Heo Eatery, on the other hand, has none of that, and it is clean AF but you don’t get that hole-in-the-wall deep broth flavor where their broth has been brewed over the past couple of days. We usually go to Heo Eatery if we are closer to downtown and we are feeling like a healthy kind-of pho for the day.
#1 How I Eat Pho – Pull the noodles over the beef
I’m going to share with you all how I eat pho – which may be new to some or already understood by others. When your pho comes out, the meat will look slightly pink as it is medium cooked. If you pull the noodles to go over your beef so the noodles are literally sitting on your meat, it is contained at the very bottom of the bowl where its the hottest point of the broth for the beef to still cook. It’s kind of like when you take off your eggs off of the frying pan but it actually cooks a bit more even off of the frying pan.
#2 How I Eat Pho – Add all the vegetables
After I’ve flipped my noodles over, next is to add the vegetables that come with the dish, complimentary, into your soup. For me, I’ll add in a handful of beansprouts, a couple of jalapeno slices, Thai basil, cilantro, and a squeeze of the lime wedge. As you are adding the vegetables into your pho, try to mix it in the broth so it “cooks” a bit too with the warm broth.
#3 How I Eat Pho – Adding extra sauce
Before adding the two sauces into my broth, I always take a few sips of the broth by itself to taste how deep the broth is so I can level set with my tastebuds how much sauce I actually need to add in, as there are no true measurements that guides you on how much sauce to actually add. Also, there are days I just want my broth to be spicier or lighter in taste.
My usual go-to sauce is a 50/50 combination is 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce and 1 tbsp of Hoisin sauce. If I am feeling like a bit more of a lighter broth, I’ll do a 60/40 combination of about 1 tbsp of Sriracha sauce and 3 teaspoons of Hoisin sauce.
#4 How I Eat Pho – Dipping the beef into hoisin sauce
Ok, this is totally optional. I’m a sauce kind of gal. I LOVE SAUCE. Because the beef isn’t marinated beforehand and it is straight-up boiled beef in pho… I like to do an ever so slight touch of a dip with Hoisin sauce. I really should not be doing this from a health perspective, but it is so freaking delicious.
Pho Van Location
Pho Van Address:
8557 Research Blvd #120, Austin, TX 78758
Pho Van Hours:
Every day 10:30AM – 9PM