Downtown Lunch: Pho So 1
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
Before reading the sign at the entrance of Pho So 1, the new Vietnamese restaurant located on Mott street, try to visualize a drunk Vietnamese restaurant owner shouting those words at you. Yhat’s the only way I can read that sign with a straight face. But then again it’s really funny, so why would I even want to read it with a straight face?
This end of Mott street has a few old Chinese standbys including Wo Hop and Hop Kee, the old-school-kinda-joints where you walk down a flight of stairs to get inside. Pho So 1 is also found down a flight of steep stairs at 11 Mott street, now offering good, honest priced Vietnamese food (also currently offering a 10% discount as part of their grand opening).
I tried the crepe with shrimp & pork ($6.75) which is a rice flour crepe seasoned with curry spices (comes out looking yellow and I thought it was made with egg at first before I tasted it). It’s filled with shrimp, thin slices of pork, and bean sprouts. Also on the plate is a heaping portion of salad leaves which you’re supposed to use to wrap up the crepe and dip in a bowl of sauce they give you on the side. All Vietnamese restaurants do the same thing with with their spring rolls, which if you’ve never had one is like egg rolls 2.0. And when made right they’re not greasy, but extremely crispy and flavorful.
I had one at Pho So 1 and it passed the test but the best I’ve had to date was in Vietnam (duh). In NYC I think New Pasteur does em up right.
Back to the crepe though. It was really wonderful. The different textures and flavors all worked together perfectly, like the cast of 30 Rock. I found it interesting that they put the shrimp inside the crepe with the shells still on them. I asked the waiter why, and he just just said some Vietnamese people like it that way. He said I could just remove it myself, but I have a sneaking suspicion he was lying and they just forgot to remove mine.
The chicken curry with bread ($5.50) was also well prepared although the curry broth was a bit thin. I was expecting (or perhaps hoping) for something a bit thicker to go with the crusty warm baguette they serve it with.
Pho So 1, 11 Mott Street (btw. Mosco & Worth), 212-566-9888