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.)

Downtown Lunch: Pho So 1

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?

Downtown Lunch: Pho So 1

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).

Downtown Lunch: Pho So 1

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.

Downtown Lunch: Pho So 1

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



  • Leaving the shell on the shrimp is actually quite current in vietnamese cooking. My mother-in-law is vietnamese she does it all the time. Crunchy and delicious

  • First: Great photos, Daniel (as always).

    Second: Did you try the pho?

  • So you eat the shell EricRicou?
    My mom makes a shrimp Veracruz with the shells on. It’s so the meal takes on even more shrimp flavor (like when you make shrimp broth from the shells to add to a main shrimp dish). But we always remove the shells as we eat it.

  • I’m Vietnamese and my mom makes it with the shell on the shrimp. The yellowness in the banh xeo (the crepe) comes from tumeric. I love this new restaurant. I can say it’s very much like my mom’s cooking! FYI, Pho So 1′s owner is the former owner of Banh Mi So 1 on Broome. That place has gone down hill since he sold it.

  • IMO Pho Tu Do (Grand & Bowery) is the best pho in NYC. I can’t comment on the rest of the Vietnamese food since I only ever order the ubiquitous #1 (“with 6 differences”).

    I’ll never figure out why so many people love Cong Ly – their pho broth is dishwater.

  • The pho here is great – get a large #2!

  • Large number 2.

    I’ll leave this one for Wayne.

  • I’d also like to know if the Pho is good there!

  • Wow looks really good, gonna check this one out. The crepe looks

  • ive been here a few times since it opened and it’s definitely hit or miss – the crepe (banh xeo) is actually just yellow from tumeric and the one thing missing in banh xeo up here that my mom (im viet) and dc places use is mung bean in the stuffing- i miss that. their bo luc lac, curry, and grilled pork over broke rice is really good -their pho is kind of homemade tasting but on the greasy side and packaged noodles, kinda small. i think pho bang has the best pho in the city, tho nothing close to back home. my viet roommate said the bun mang vit is good too.

  • Pho Bang & Pho Bac all the way, but I’m curious to try this and it would be cool if they were open late night (like tonight!) just like their neighbors Hop Kee and Wo Hop.

  • my cooks shrimp stir fries with the shell on and she peels ‘em before she eats them. but being lazy, i just eat the shell with the shrimp.

    it kind of hurts when i swallow.

  • Kind of hurts when I swallow…

    Large number 2…

    Mamacita’s talking about strippers…

    Jeez I picked a bad day to take off

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