Cape Fear Foodie: Are You Pho Real?
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After making plans to try an under-the-radar Asian restaurant, a hand written “Kitchen Closed Today” sign was hanging on the door. To say it was a bummer would be an understatement, but given the options around town it didn’t take long to find an alternative.
So after a couple years away, a friend and I made a quick trip over to Pho Basil. Given the summer heat and the humidity that makes the air feel like soup, it may seem strange to eat a hot steaming bowl of, well, soup. But that’s exactly what we did, and loved every second of it.
Many cultures thrive on eating hot foods, especially during the hot summer months. It doesn’t compute to our ice cream hungry brains, but eating hot foods, like a bowl of pho, can trigger your brain to cool your body. Admittedly, the science of it all didn’t factor into our decision to come here, but the food certainly did.
The menu at Pho Basil isn’t exactly extensive, but that’s fine, all the basics are covered with precision. The restaurant is small, but there were 10 to 12 people inside with the same idea as us, chow down on some of the best pho and Vietnamese food around.
We started with shrimp spring rolls and pork skin spring rolls, served with peanut sauce and fish sauce. Both are packed with freshness and a welcome treat to get you started.
Next was a beautifully simple Banh mi sandwich. A perfect handheld sandwich with a small, freshly baked baguette, thinly sliced carrots, daikon, jalapeños, cilantro and fried tofu. Yes, fried tofu. You can get chicken, beef, or pork, but the fried tofu is both light and perfectly crispy. I could have polished off three of these with no trouble had I not ordered a massive bowl of pho as well.
Speaking of the pho, we decided to try some different specialty soups, the Wonton Egg Noodle Soup and the Vietnamese Hot and Spicy Beef Noodles Soup. The first is a light yet flavorful chicken-based broth soup with pork-filled wontons, and sliced pork with egg noodles and loaded with white, fried, and green onions. Your brain thinks it’s a savory chicken noodle soup but the wontons and pork add a different element.
The Vietnamese Hot and Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is a beef-based broth with slices of beef brisket and pork rolls, with noodles, and white and green onions. Of course, you are served a heaping mound of fresh veggies and herbs to round out the offering (basil, cilantro, cabbage, bean sprouts, and jalapeños). I love spicy hot dishes, so I also tossed in some chili oil for good measure.
There is just something so satisfying about slurping the broth that’s been melding flavors for hours, the taste of the tender meats with the crunch of the fresh greens. It’s almost enough to make you forget it’s 90+ degrees outside, almost.
So don’t shy away from your favorite pho restaurant (seemingly everyone has their favorite), I’ve reviewed another one of Wilmington’s popular pho spots here. Another great thing about pho restaurants is that they are often affordable. Our entire meal after tip was $44, plus we each had a full meal to take home. That’s a big win nowadays.
Pho Basil also has items for a variety of tastes. With a range of appetizers, salads, noodles, fried rice dishes, and boba teas on the menu. But something tells me you won’t be able to resist once you see the person next to you dig in, it’s just too good to pass up, no matter the weather.
IF YOU GO:
Pho Basil is located at 812 South College Road, Wilmington 28403
Do you recommend a restaurant? Or know of a best kept secret that you want the rest of the Cape Fear to know about? Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I would love to feature your selection. Cheers!
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