Review By: Eric Hoover -
My lady friend tried convincing me to hit up Pho Ta with her for hours. I have nothing against Vietnamese food, in fact the reason I was so against it was because I wanted to go to a competing Vietnamese eatery across the street. I can be pretty stubborn about my food choices.
What finally convinced me to hit up Pho Ta? Three words – BBQ Pork Rolls. Rolls of pork, like spring rolls…except instead of being filled with light and health veggies they are stuffed with delicious salty pork.
I’ve biked past Pho Ta a million times in all my years of South Philly living and never paid it much thought. It looks like a typical Jersey diner, with crowded, weird art that’s been on the walls for decades and plastic drinking cups filled with tap water.
Listen, I grew up in New Jersey and spent my formative years drinking diner coffee and breathing in cigarette smoke until dawn – it’s ok for me to make harsh accusations.
Vietnamese eateries that have been passed down through generations of family ownership are great because nothing changes, including a) the quality of whatever you’re eating, and b) the prices. After ordering up a serving of the aforementioned pork rolls they were devoured within seconds. In fact, we ate them so fast I forget to snap a photo. Hey, it happens. We went hiking earlier that day, so try to not get overly judgey.
Living a bit on the edge, I had decided there wasn’t enough pork in my digestive system already, and ordered the Bun Thit Nuong Dac Biet Vermicelli Bowl…or as it’s labeled on the Viet-English menu: J6. My Vermicelli Bowl (oh, forgot to mention that vermicelli is a thin white rice noodle) was topped with lettuce, mixed veggies, pork and grilled shrimp, with a fish sauce and left over peanut dipping sauce I tossed in from the pork rolls.
It was an amazing meal, and for you frugal city-dwellers, $20 will cover what should have been enough food for two meals.
Another wonderful quality of Vietnamese restaurants or diners is that you never wait long to chow down. Both courses were presented quickly (I didn’t share mine; she had to get her own. I’m a selfish foodie) and we left very satisfied, still thinking about the meal hours later.
Photo Credit: Philly.com