Pho Cali - Melbourne/Eau Gallie- 3.75 Stars
Along with Açai, Pho spots also seem to be opening up on every corner these days and for good reasons. It is cheap, easy, convenient (you don't need a big place to make soup) and can be filling if done properly. This is why I was looking forward to my next review as Pho Cali had popped up on my random restaurant generator. Pulling into the parking lot for Pho Cali, I soon realized they were a full-fledged Vietnamese restaurant, not just another Pho shack, either that or they made really, really big pots of soup!
The interior was charming, cool and relaxing no doubt in order to lure the patron into a sense of ease and well being. We were immediately greeted in the most friendly manner, showed to a table and handed our menus. Glancing to and fro over the menu I was impressed with its breadth of Vietnamese fare. Our lovely server, Chiu, was prompt on the spot and well versed in the menu. After answering a few questions we had, we asked him for an order of their Special Combination Rice Plate #94 and a bowl of Pho Tai which was #48 on the menu.
Our wait wasn't too long before Chiu was seen returning from the kitchen with our food. The smells proceeding him were satisfactory and the meal was certainly pleasing to the eye. The Special Combination Rice Plate consisted of a grilled pork sausage mixed with grilled pork, a shrimp cake and shrimp sausage all wrapped in bean curd (not bean curb as the menu states) all served over Vietnamese broken rice. Sadly, the Special read better than it tasted. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as it sounded and on the whole was rather average. Hey, there is nothing wrong with a "C", I just prefer "A's." The execution was flawless, by that I mean everything was cooked to order, fresh and put together well, the taste just seemed to fall a bit flat.
Moving on to the bowl of Pho, their menu number #48, which was a bowl of Pho (beef broth) along with thinly sliced pieces of well-done steak, topped with the traditionally chopped scallions, cilantro, and thinly sliced onions. This was also executed flawlessly, yet somewhat bland. I expect my food to pop in my mouth, to really let me know I am eating something worth eating. This did not do that. Again, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't all that great.
Asian food in Florida seems to be all about clipping the poor bastards not well versed in foods from the Far-East. That is why this place fell flat, instead of exploding with exotic flavors on my palate. For non-authentic Vietnamese food, this place is top o' the heap in Brevard. However, scootch on over to O-Town or to our neighboring state to the West, Louisiana, and you will find some real from the old country Vietnamese food.
To restate, the food was cooked properly, including the noodles and the broken rice, the toppings seemed fresh, the service was nice and helpful, the flavor fell flat. I can only assume it's because they either can't get the authentic ingredients here or won't, regardless, the fare is average.
The Big Boy says, "For an average Asian meal, this will do. For the real deal, head a bit West." #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout