Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pho Thanh My does a fantastic soup and sandwich

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 2:00 PM

IMG_1388.JPG

Chinese cuisine has been popular for ages, Japanese has seen its golden years, Thai has had its share of the spotlight. The sun is rising on a new successor to the throne, the new king of the Asian foodscape…to which I say, “Good morning, Vietnam.” Central Arkansas is no stranger to Vietnamese cuisine as we are fortunate to have a handful of decent options, but there’s definitely room for more. I’ve been hearing about Pho Thanh My for a few months now, so I decided it was time to pay them a visit. Thanh My is rather inconspicuously located on a nondescript stretch of Shackleford in Little Rock. The building is not showy, nothing eye-catching. Oddly, it sits in what appears to be a small cleared-out field of towering bamboo…not the usual foliage you’d expect when your neighbors include a Famous Dave’s, Ramada Inn, and Kroger. Despite its rather lackluster exterior, the food within sings of Saigon. This is a song of light, aromatic food, contrasting temperatures, vibrant color, and sensual spice. It’s a song that once heard, it will not soon be forgotten.

Perhaps nothing says Vietnam better than a steaming bowl of pho, indeed this may be the single best opportunity for those less familiar with Vietnamese cuisine to get a taste of what it’s all about. Pho, or Vietnamese noodle soup, is a spectacular spread of flavor and texture. Great pho is an amalgamation of a handful of ingredients, steeped in a boiling bowl of beef broth—it is the quality of this broth that truly sets a great Vietnamese noodle house apart from the mediocre. Typically, this broth is prepared by simmering beef bones, onion, ginger, and other spices for a long while, often several hours, until the beef fat is slowly leached out imparting a rich, meaty flavor to the liquid. Thanh My does a respectable job with its broth. A bowl of pho comes to you steaming like an angry geyser, small droplets of yellow-gold melted beef fat dancing along the surface of the brown broth. Some may find the overall flavor to be slightly under-seasoned, especially compared to our American canned-soup standards, but I enjoy a bowl of pho that relies as much on its ingredients for flavoring as it does on its salt content. Thanh My offers fifteen varieties of pho with an assortment of protein options that includes steak, brisket, beef tendon, chicken, tripe, meatball, and beef flank. The steak or flank are safe choices—they’re added to the broth late in the process, still rare and succulent, and continue to cook in the steaming liquid as they reach your table. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of beef tendon. While it’s no secret that raw tendon is, well, no good…generally tough and unappetizing, in well-prepared pho it becomes a magical Vietnamese treasure…tender, rendered soft, with a hint of gelatinous chew. Then there are the glorious toppings: shaved red onion, crunchy bean sprouts, scallion, jalapeno, and Thai basil. I prefer to add a few drops of Sriracha to heighten the experience, a touch of spice to cut through the richness of the pho broth. Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of Thanh My’s pho. As expected, the portions are sufficient for the likes of Paul Bunyan, so you may want to bring a friend.

IMG_1393.JPG
You’ll certainly want to grab one of their fantastic banh mi sandwiches. Banh mi has been popping up on menus all over, no longer limited to the confines of traditional Vietnamese restaurants. This is likely due to their versatility and one’s ability to modify ingredients to suit the tastes of any aspiring, innovative chef. It’s a sandwich that is both familiar and exotic, but Thanh My’s traditional approach and classic construction is one of the finest these lips have wrapped themselves around. They start with a freshly baked baguette… a pillowy soft interior with a flaky, golden crust. I went with the char-glazed pork, a tender, sweetened handful of sliced pig. I was happy to find that they were not greedy with the meat as it was clearly the star of this show. Fresh, raw vegetables joined the glazed pork…the usual players: julienned carrots, thinly sliced cucumber, a handful of cilantro sprigs, and jalapeno. It’s an all-star lineup that works brilliantly. The blend of spicy and sweet, crisp vegetables and soft, warm bread…it’s the sandwich that understandably helped propel Vietnamese street food into the forefront of the American culinary scene.

The menu at Pho Thanh My is dense and extensive, likely a little intimidating on a person’s first visit. They organize things into a handful of general groups which include vermicelli noodle bowls, rice plates, “broken rice” plates (which is literally rice that has been fractured and separated out during processing), noodle soup, stir fried noodles, fried rice, and a few specialty soups. It’s a menu that could keep a loyal customer exploring new flavors for months without ever having to repeat one’s order. Admittedly, I have much more to discover at Thanh My, but I assure you, I welcome the opportunity. I expect with the influx of colder weather in the coming months, a steaming bowl of pho will only become more irresistible.

Pho Thanh My
302 N. Shackleford Rd.
Little Rock
501-312-7498
Mon-Sat: 11AM - 9PM but CLOSED on Tuesdays
Sun: 11AM - 8PM
Available for both dine-in or take out.

Tags: , , ,

Speaking of...

Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by Daniel Walker

  • The Kraft Mac & Cheese Food Hack

    Recently, we held another food hack competition, taking another childhood classic, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and tried to turn it on its head, creating something entirely new and unique. Again, the results were pretty awesome. The rules were simple: Use a whole box of mac and cheese, both noodles and cheese powder, and turn it into any sinister monstrosity imaginable. We had a vote via the Eat Arkansas Facebook page to crown a winner. Here's what was submitted:
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • Food Feedback Friday: The "We need your vote!" edition

    Alrighty...you know the drill with Food Feedback. Tell us what you're eating this week and what you thought about it. I love to hear all the suggestions and I'm frequently looking back through your recommendations to determine my next meal. So share away! Happy weekend, y'all.
    • Jul 25, 2014
  • Looking in on the new Le Pops, now in the Heights

    Le Pops is a wonderful addition to the Heights neighborhood. Laurie Harrison is incredibly dedicated to her product, she still works here 7 days a week and is constantly experimenting in the kitchen to develop new flavors. Check them out the next time you need a cool down.
    • Jul 24, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Bill to regulate dog breeders draws opposition inside chamber from industry rep

    A fight could be brewing over regulation of puppy mills, with legislation planned to better protect dogs and opposition already underway from a state representative who makes a living working with commercial dog breeders.
  • The hart

    It is hard for a straight person, The Observer included, to imagine what it would be like to be born gay — to be shipwrecked here on this space-going clod, where nearly every textbook, novel, film and television show, nearly every blaring screen or billboard or magazine ad, reinforces the idea that "normal" means "heterosexual."
  • Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

    It turns back the clock on civil rights.
  • Death penalty repeal clears Senate Committee

    The Senate Judiciary Committee has endorsed Sen. David Burnett's bill to repeal the death penalty.
  • Presbytery of Arkansas opposes bills aimed at gay discrimination

    The Presbytery of Arkansas, the governing body for Presbyterian churches in the northern two-thirds of Arkansas, met Saturday at Clarksville and adopted a resolution urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto SB 202, which is aimed at preventing local government from passing anti-discrimination laws to protect gay people. The Presbytery also expressed its opposition to a pending House bill that, in the name of "conscience," would protect those who discriminate against gay people.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation