(937) 433-7388 website
Vietnamese restaurants are few and far between in Ohio, so it’s no surprise that Pho Mi is one of only three Vietnamese places open in Dayton. With little to no competition, a place like faces its biggest challenge in convincing conservative south Ohioans to try a new cuisine. That said, the friendly atmosphere competes with an outdated look and is very distracting. The food is decent, but ultimately I fear Pho Mi simply fails to distinguish itself as a memorable eatery worth a second trip.
Pho Mi has many of the dishes commonly found at Vietnamese restaurant. Pho noodle soups, rice vermicelli Bún dishes served with fried, spring roll-like Chả Giò. The basic Vietnamese dishes are good, though they could use a little more seasoning or something. Anything, really. Some of the vegetables are a little too raw without a new flavor to change them around. It’s a nitpick, but it really does taste like something you could make at home without a distinguishing taste. The frustrating thing is that not all of the dishes are done to the same level.
- Bun Cha Nuong Cha Gio: The vermicelli bowls are especially good. Fresh vegetables and steamy noodles are hard to hate. The meats are cooked well enough, though I prefer them cooked more thoroughly.
- Fried tofu: seems blatantly mismatched with a bowl of fish sauce. Tofu is the great blank slate of cooking; you can give it any kind of flavor you want. Instead, they just opted to fry chunks of it and toss it on a plate with a very weak and ineffective flavoring. Without something very strong to make up for the tofus natural tastelessness, like hoisin sauce, the dish is basically inedible. It needs to be completely rethought in a new way to be effective.
- Fried rice: The kind of fried rice dishes found here are filled with veggies and stir fried in a nice sauce. All in all, a pretty basic take on the fried rice but still good.
- Mi Nam: This vermicelli soup is very filling with features delicious cuts of meat to top it off and make it a bit of a heavier soup. Otherwise it’s perfect to be tried with a crunch spring roll or something like it.
- Banh Mi: The popular sandwich is pretty easy to love. It’s best with a bit of fish sauce on top otherwise it can be a little on the dry end.
- Summer rolls: Also known as gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese. These rolls are filled with shrimp and a bit of pork and served cool with a hoisin sauce. Kicks off a meal right.
- Goi Tom Thit: A Vietnamese fresh shrimp and pork salad, this one is served with your choice of noodles. Plenty of meat to be enjoyed on this dish, and no lack of flavor in that sweet sauce.
- Hu Tieu Tom Thit Sate: A type of Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, pork stock, shrimp and vegetables. Filling and a little spicy.
- Bubble tea: A nice, thick tea with a sweet and a little creamy flavor and tapioca pearls. Needs big ice cubes though, the ground up ice kind of ruins the experience.
- Bún Cha Gio: A classic Vietnamese bún dish with crispy Vietnamese spring rolls and peanuts on top. If there’s one dish that will introduce you to Vietnamese cuisine, this is the one.
The people are nice and the service is pretty effective. The family which runs Pho Mi clearly cares about the business. Unfortunately, with the concept the way that it is, it’s hard to see that. The whole building needs a thorough renovation and a complete makeover. The building is clearly old; one glance at the exterior makes that obvious. But with ugly off-white walls, a dining room full of too many chairs and a disorganized front counter, the atmosphere of the whole place is kind of ruined. It needs a repaint. The floor plan should be rethought so the place feels more spacious. The table placement is awkward, so you feel strangely claustrophobic.
In all, Pho Mi certainly has room for improvement in some areas, but it’s definitely worth a try.
- The basic Vietnamese dishes are good here, but I don’t think it pays to be too adventurous. Some of the dishes need to be rethought.
- There are plenty of online coupons on the restaurant’s website if you’re dining on a budget.
- Service is good, and it’s definitely a safe place to bring newcomers to Vietnamese food.