PHO Around Nashville

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Pho Around Nashville

Since I was a kid I enjoyed a good bowl of Pho – Vietnamese beef noodle soup. I’ve enjoyed the dish in Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) as well as New York City, Columbus (Ohio), Los Angeles (California), Bowling Green (Kentucky).

It can taste very different and varies as much in terms of taste as dialects of a language can vary.  But once I find a place, I tend to settle down and have it at that place regularly. In 2007 I moved to Nashville (Tennessee) and found one place I enjoyed – Miss Saigon on Charlotte Pike (5849 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209). Miss Saigon will forever remain my favorite.   I settled there for 15 years without change – until now.

In the spirit of change, I began a tour on Wednesdays called “Pho Around Nashville”. I will say that with the exception of Love, Peace and Pho most of these places don’t respond in any positive way that I’m on a Pho tour or that I’m Vietnamese. That is the part that saddens me the most as I enjoy being able to connect with my heritage at Miss Saigon. These places for the most part just don’t care but to each their own. Regarding Pho itself there is an important notation on taste. My taste is subjective – one person’s good Pho is another person’s so-so Pho. So here goes with the Pho’s:

Love, Peace and Pho – 2112 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204 – I started here after driving to Far East Nashville only to find it was closed that day over the lunch hour. Love Peace and Pho had some very rich tasting egg rolls, great water service and it’s Pho was the closest to Miss Saigon’s taste. This would probably be where I settle-in after the tour is over. Update: With the tour over, Love, Peace, and Pho is the clear winner. Miss Saigon will forever remain my favorite but since this tour was about the other places, Love, Peace, and Pho is the winner.

Vui’s Kitchen – 1201 Liberty Pike, Franklin, TN 37067 – This was probably the most American tasting of the Pho and the smallest portion for the money paid. It’s serviceable to me but not a regular stop. I will say they excel in speed though. There were no fried egg rolls that I could find.

Pho Ann – 4516 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205 –  Pho Ann had some incredible egg rolls. The Pho seemed pretty standard to me but the place itself was packed during lunch.

Kien Giang – 5825 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209 – They finally take credit cards! The long standing cash-only place now takes cards. The Pho here was pretty good but the Egg Rolls seemed pretty standard.

Vinh Long – 5906 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209 – 1061 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217 – So this place was cash only. I didn’t know that so I had to make a cash run at the local Walgreens. The cost was probably the lowest of anywhere I went but the table service was a bit on the low side. The egg rolls were amazing but the pho was probably closer to Vui’s kitchen in terms of tasting very American however the clientele was largely if not entirely Vietnamese when I was there.

PHO T&N – 3745 Annex Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209 – Great egg rolls, good service, Pho was okay here but not my favorite.  

V&V Vietnamese Cuisine – 214 Ward Circle, #700 , Brentwood, TN 37027 – This is a brand new place. The Pho had more of a bland American pallete to me and the eggroll was more standard fare. The price was higher than most. Being new however they weren’t married to a customer base and legacy pricing so I expected it to be more. Not a favorite for me but for Americans it should be serviceable.

East Side Pho (NOT RECOMMENDED – the only one in Nashville I do not recommend!) – 1101 McKennie Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 – No fried Egg rolls.

There was only one I do not recommend. Please remember my taste is subjective – one person’s good Pho is another person’s so-so Pho. It was East Side Pho. As the last one, I messaged them on Facebook prior to coming to ask if there’s anything I needed to know before coming.

“…No there’s nothing we can think of like that that you would need to know.” – East Side Pho, Tuesday July 6, 2022.

When I arrived at East Side Pho, I only saw 3 parking spaces – for carry out. Parking is $2.00 nearby. Knowing that is something I’d have thought they’d have told me in advance.

It was outdoor dining only. It was also over 90 degrees outside and had been for weeks. That would have been good to know. They also have a sprinkling mist that can destroy electronics right in the seating area.

The person who took my order mispronounced “Pho” as in FO (long “O”). It was VERY expensive for a bowl with beef balls and they wanted the tip in advance – no where else on the tour in Nashville wanted the tip in advance.

The bowl and spoon were all disposable plastic / paper. It was like a cheap mall food court to me.

Lastly I was asked how my meal was. I nodded negatively and the employee just laughed. Same employee that can’t pronounce “Pho” correctly. I don’t know if it was racial or not but as a Vietnamese I took it as racially negative towards me.

I don’t recommend East Side Pho. It also tasted like beef with bullion cubes in it to me – nothing like any Pho I’ve ever had in my lifetime. It was very expensive, I had to pay for parking, and tip in advance. So this place is NOT recommended. It’s a hard avoid for me. For the total cost I could have gotten nearly two lunches somewhere else.

VN Pho & Deli – 5906 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209 I’d like to try this however it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays which cuts it from the “Pho Across Nashville” tour. This place will not be visited since it is closed on the tour days.

Far East Nashville – 1008 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN 37206 – This one is only open 4-9pm Monday-Sun so it will have to be cut from the “Pho Across Nashville Tour”. This place will not be visited since it is closed on the tour days.