975 Airport Rd. SW, Huntsville
In late 2002, at long-gone Saigon Bistro on still-there Country Club Avenue in Huntsville, I had my first bowl of pho. This inadvertently revolutionary act catalyzed the retooling of my entire palate going forward.
A single bowl of soup? Really?
Pho (properly “phở,” and it rhymes with duh, not go) is a rice noodle soup that is the de facto national dish of Vietnam, and a good bowl is simply magical. Pho can come with several different meats and packs a long list of spices, including ginger, star anise, coriander, and fennel.
Pho also includes a plate of garnishes to be added to taste, right before you dig in. Typically you’ll find cilantro, Thai basil, mung bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, and a lime wedge, with hoisin and sriracha sauces available on the table.
I’m pleased to report that some of the best pho in the Huntsville area is at Viet House on Airport Rd.
The most deluxe version of the soup, phở đặc biệt, contains multiple varieties of beef, including tripe and tendon. That’s what I had all those years ago, and if you want it too, you can have it at Viet House. These days I generally go for phở tái, which includes thin slices of steak that cook right in the broth. Phở gà, with chicken, is my son’s favorite, and I get that once in a while. Several other varieties, including seafood and vegetarian, are also available on the Viet House menu.
Though I can’t say I’ve ever had a truly bad bowl of pho, there are good ones and great ones. And the difference in the great ones tends to be vibrancy. While pho is not spicy hot, it has a complex spice profile, and a good bowl just pops. It pops at Viet House!
My wife usually goes for a clay pot, and she was complimentary of her beef. A clay pot is also what I usually recommend for someone trying Vietnamese for the first time who’s a bit timid about the prospect. With oven-baked rice and vegetables and several different proteins available, it’s not really that far off the path of American Chinese food. So it’s a good ease-in to an unfamiliar cuisine.
Vermicelli bowls are also a Vietnamese staple dish, again with multiple proteins available. Lemongrass beef is one of my favorites, and that’s a popular play for me if I’m passing up pho altogether. My bowl was tender and flavorful, again with a nice pop to it from the lemongrass.
Viet House boasts one of the more extensive Vietnamese menus in the area, with numerous additional noodle dishes and soups, as well as a long list of signature appetizers, beverages, and desserts. Boba tea makes my son happy, and rice paper spring rolls with plum and peanut sauce are one of my favorite appetizers.
Vietnamese cuisine typically packs a lot of visual, olfactory, and gustatory punch for the money, and Viet House is no exception. For a quick lunch, a family dinner, or a date on a budget that doesn’t feel like one, Huntsville’s latest Vietnamese restaurant is an ideal stop.
Bo Williams is a Christian, husband, father, writer, and human trafficking activist. He is the Director of Public Relations for the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force (stnow.org). He enjoys IndyCar racing, wristwatches, and spending time with his family, especially at the beach. You can keep up with Bo day to day at BoWilliams.com.