Pho Corner Bistro Is Pho-nomenal
Many more hits than misses at one of the county’s rare Vietnamese restaurants
A big flavorful bowl of pho with accompaniments, including lime, jalapenos, bean sprouts, fresh basil, and tuong den (bean sauce).
Photos by Michael Polito
A requisite Vietnamese fare item is the bánh mi sandwich (above); a sampler app platter, with grilled beef, sugarcane shrimp, and egg rolls (below).
Outside, a bánh mi (or Vietnamese) sandwich looks pedestrian and colorless. Yet once you bite into it, you’ll experience a variety of flavors and colors. Fresh cilantro adds herbaceous punch; jalapeno slices bring the heat; mayonnaise and meat provide richness; and crunchy, tart, pickled carrots and daikon supply the crunch. Pho Corner, the County’s second (full-service) and newest Vietnamese restaurant, is just like a bánh mi: modest in appearance but big on taste and authenticity.
True to its name, the Bedford Hills spot is located on the corner of a strip mall. Inside, it contains a mere handful of tables and simple decorations: a television screen displaying evocative images of Vietnam, chili plants, white-paper lantern lights, and colorful baskets on the wall. Yellow cans of Café du Monde chicory coffee line a shelf behind the wood-clad counter. Although more of a takeout or delivery place, Pho Corner does take reservations, as it can, due to its small size, get crowded at peak times.
If you must wait, you’ll feel those minutes were justified once you try the food. The menu is small, but most of the items impress. Appetizers include refreshing rice-paper rolls with a shrimp or barbecue pork filling, and pork egg rolls with a textbook-perfect crust that shatters when you bite into it, with an appealingly funky shrimp filling. Or, order a sampler with crispy-edged grilled beef, egg rolls, and sugarcane shrimp.
The crave-worthy bánh mi sandwiches come in four varieties: the House Special Sandwich (with bacon, pork roll, and crunchy ham), grilled pork, grilled chicken, and sautéed meatball. The two I tried (the House Special and the grilled chicken) both made me swoon. All are served on the traditional baguette (which was introduced to the country by the French), with cilantro, jalapeno, mayonnaise, and pickled vegetables.
For the restaurant’s namesake dish, try the pho, or rice-noodle soup. All four varieties (with beef) star rice noodles and a gelatin-rich beef broth complex with base notes of star anise and cinnamon, served with a plate of fresh jalapeno slices and fresh basil leaves to stir in for contrast. Although both types of pho I tried were rich in flavor, some of the meat was slightly tough and overcooked.
Other than the bánh mi sandwiches, the bún, or rice vermicelli dishes, also wowed my group. Served in a large bowl, the five options all feature super-thin, white, tender vermicelli noodles and shredded lettuce, with various toppings of shrimp, pork, or egg rolls. Most gild the lily with fresh mint and crushed peanuts.
For maximum flavor, douse the bowl’s contents with the tart-sweet nuoc cham sauce, a combination of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and water. We also loved the meltingly tender, lemongrass-infused grilled chicken, with jasmine rice, vegetables, and lime-chili sauce. Consider ordering a grilled chicken dish to-go, to devour for lunch the next day.
When I asked our waiter if the restaurant offered dessert, he brought over small square bites of cassava cake for each guest in my party, telling us they were complimentary. The treats were moist and tender, with a subtle coconut flavor.
For a sweet alternative, opt for a Vietnamese iced coffee, featuring Café du Monde chicory coffee. With an intense coffee-chocolate flavor and hint of sweetened condensed milk, it’s sophisticated rather than too sweet. Although Pho Corner offers black milk, Thai iced, rose milk, green, and taro bubble tea, I wasn’t impressed with the taro version I tasted. The tapioca balls were overly soft, not holding their shape. Meanwhile, the tea, a pretty shade of lilac from the purplish root vegetable, was watery instead of creamy.
Other drinks include Vietnamese hot-drip coffee, hot tea, and coconut water (alcohol isn’t served). The restaurant accompanies its hot jasmine tea with a lime slice — a transcendental combination.
Overall, Pho Corner offers an impressive, fresh, light take on Vietnamese fare, with friendly service and extremely reasonable prices. Come to this unassuming spot for a quick lunch or to pick up takeout. Perhaps, as Pho Corner becomes established, the restaurant will add more items to the menu (such as salads and desserts) and procure a liquor license. Regardless, I’ll be back for more delicious bánh mi sandwiches.
Food 3/4 ★ | Service 2.5/4 ★ | Atmosphere 2/4 ★ | Cost 2/4 ★ | Volume 2/4 ★
Pho Corner Bistro
740 North Bedford Rd, Bedford Hills