Originally posted February 9, 2009 (salt lake scenery)
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a healthy appetite. Let me amend that statement. Anyone who has seen me knows that I have a healthy appetite. I love all types of food but in the last few years, I have developed a special fondness for Vietnamese cuisine that borders a bit on fanaticism. My wife doesn’t get it but then again I think it would be safe to say that she is a very finicky eater. I on the other hand have no qualms about stuffing my face full of anything that goes down and stays down.
A co-worker and I stumbled upon Vietnamese cuisine while looking for something out of the ordinary. A place that provided something appetizing and filling that did not have the words ‘flame-broiled’, ‘secret sauce’ and ‘eleven-herbs-and-spices’ in its marketing campaigns or slogans. And I prefer that it is not crawling off my plate.
West Valley City is by-and-large, one of Utah’s largest melting pots and the 3500 South corridor is an international potpourri of Mexican, Chinese, American, South American, Japanese, Polynesian, South-East Asian cuisine. With their distinct flavors and foods from around the world, its one of my favorite places to scout out unique fare that you would be hard-pressed to find in other parts of the State. You’re bound to find something interesting to eat while wandering along this main artery of the city as far west as the 4000 block to as far east as Highland Drive.
Pho Hoa, located off 3460 South and Redwood Road in West Valley was the genesis of my Vietnamese food addiction. Part of a national chain, the place is still reminiscent of your typical hole-in-the-wall where you discover untapped potential. Its no longer the best kept secret in Utah but rather a teeming, bustling café filled with people from all walks of life who enter its doors to enjoy the establishments main dish: Pho.
Thinly cut slices of beef (if you’re adventurous enough try a bit of tripe and fatty flank) and rice noodles cooking in a steaming bowl of beef broth are about as close to taste-bud heaven as I will ever get. A squeeze of lime, a handful of sprouts and a bit of hot sauce to give it a little ‘go’ and there is nothing more satisfying that I can think of for my diversified palate.
Prices are reasonable and the helpings are hearty enough to leave you content.
Just up the street from Pho Hoa on 2000 West and 3500 South is Green Papaya where the fare is every bit as appetizing and reasonably priced. The decor is a bit more subdued and lunch crowd here is an eclectic group consisting primarily of business suits and soccer moms taking a break from the shops at nearby Valley Fair Mall.
The spring rolls and the Pho at Green Papaya are excellent but you might want to try the rice plates as well. My personal favorite is the Bun Bo Hue, beef and pork served with lemon-grass and spicy noodles. Delicious!
I’ve been hooked since my first taste of Vietnamese cuisine some ten-odd years ago. As an added bonus, the food is healthy and you won’t feel weighed down and lethargic like you normally would after a visit to your local burger joint. Give a shot! You won’t be disappointed.