Pho Lang Thang
Situated amid dozens of street vendors in Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market, Pho Lang Thang is an unusual offering for locals to try. The restaurant’s relatively small menu is chock full of Vietnamese dishes and a small dictionary of terms for the average, completely unaware American. The very ethnic food is served in a tasteful modern atmosphere and gives a great amount of approachability to food the average Findlay Market crawler would otherwise find nearly unrecognizable. Vietnamese is a flavor worth a try, to be sure.
The small menu is dominated by soups and noodle dishes of various types. Each has a very specific name and it’s difficult to translate them. One of the very best items, though is a Bún Chay dish — a bowl of vegetarian vermichelli and greens served with fried tofu. Although it is vegetarian, and the tofu is fried, the dish is extraordinary. The flavorful tofu stays crunchy and the vegetables and noodles come together into one very good salad-like mix. By the end of the bowl you’ve tasted a lot of very good flavors together and you’re left very satisfied with the dish.
Another dish on the menu, Bún Thịt Nướng which is similar, but contains meats grilled with lemongrass and nuts, as well as a different broth to try. Surprisingly, the addition of a few ingredients changes the flavor tremendously. The dish has a certain bite to it, regardless of the meat you choose to accentuate it with. Among the other dishes commonly served in the restaurant is chả giò, which is a sort of thin egg roll with different meats and vegetables inside, crunchy and very delicious. It’s a marvel that so many things which are otherwise completely alien come together so well to make a very delicious meal.
The very classy atmosphere of the place is inviting. Origami decorations hang from the ceiling, and a relatively plain decor gives a very bright aesthetic. The restaurant looks as simple inside as does its short menu. All of the atmosphere comes together nicely and just seems like a pleasant place to eat. Together with great service which includes countless trips back to refil water and make sure everyone understand their menu correctly, the restaurant does something truly admirable — it takes a concept people are completely unfamiliar with and preserves it with all of its unfamiliar charm, but then introduces that to a new crowd. You’ll find the idea of Vietnamese food daunting in your mind, bot fortunately, the people of Pho Lang Thang are here to help you through.
- Even if you aren’t vegetarian, the tofu dishes are incredible, tasty and filling. You will be pleasantly surprised.
- The locale is well suited to groups and families, but I will warn there is not kid’s menu — and many of the food items are difficult and exotic to young tastes. You might want to leave the kids at home.
- This place is designed primarily as a light option for breakfast or lunch.