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), and 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:
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 is fairly well balanced with a good special.
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) – 1101 McKennie Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 – No fried Egg rolls.
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 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.
Love, Peace and Pho – (NOT RECOMMENDED) – 2112 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204 – After a new menu and renovation this restaurant is not recommended. They have traded authentic Vietnamese fare with some kind of fusion boutique menu with higher prices and less choices. The Renovation seems to have favored the bar area and I’d speculate that being across from Zanies Night Club they’d want to maximize alcohol sales which are very lucrative. This is definitely a place to avoid as far as I’m concerned. The remodel seems to point to alcohol over authenticity and doesn’t even have fried spring rolls or a regular PHO special (beef balls sliced beef, tripe, etc.) . It seems geared to American diners with deep pockets and a thirst for alcohol, not authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The menu is now VERY pricey.
I do not recommend VN Pho & Deli (NOT RECOMMENDED) – 5906 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209. The egg rolls were good but the pho was too sweet for my taste. I’ve never has Pho that tasted like that in 40 years anywhere in the world. I didn’t like it personally but one persons dislike is another persons favorite. The table service was poor. I crunched ice but sadly no one came my entire meal. I did let them know as they asked as I checked out but the response was lukewarm. They also are cash only so between the fee from their ATM and my banks fee it’s an extra $6 or so for a $20 meal. It’s a hard avoid for me.
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.