You’d never know it from the ridiculous, tech-bubble name, but this tidy little 82nd Avenue Vietnamese spot makes great real world grub, from intense, cinnamony pho ($7.25-$7.95) to addictive little deep-fried tofu pockets stuffed with spicy pork pâté ($5.25). It actually used to be a different Vietnamese restaurant, but last year new owner Jasmine Nguyen invested in a ceilingful of pretty orange lanterns and shellacked a few walls with shimmering, lava-toned tiles to create a peaceful cafe and bar shoehorned between a day-glo Gen X Clothing outlet and a “Hard Rock Bar” named after a Pink Floyd song. The restaurant’s website boasts that it’s “like visiting Vietnam without leaving your hometown” and, oddly enough, it kind of is—complete with a Muzak version of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” wafting through the speakers and the broken English legend “with a lovely smile and healthy food” printed on the windows. You can eat your way through a goodly portion of the solid menu by ordering a special (vermicelli rice) noodle bowl ($8.95) or broken rice platter ($10.75). The grilled pork is charred and juicy, the crunchy little spring rolls greasy good, and the kitchen’s sautéed lemongrass tofu ($8.25) is a springy, savory treat. Dot com also serves crispy bahn xeo rice-flour crepes ($10.25); essentially a giant yellow pancake filled with ground pork, shrimp and crunchy bean sprouts that tastes a bit like an Indian dosa on holiday. The soy and fish sauce are made in-house and the servers will lovingly identify each and every item on your plate if you ask. If this is Vietnam, then you never need to leave Portland again.
- Order this: Hearty, winter-weather bahn mi bo kho beef stew ($8.50), rice bowls, anything involving fried tofu.
- I’ll pass: The “spicy” tumeric noodles just aren’t. Although the sesame rice crackers sprinkled on top are a crunchy treat.
EAT: @Pho.com, 7901 SE Powell Blvd., Suite K, 788-8877,
atpho.com. Lunch and dinner 10 am-9 pm Sunday-Tuesday and Thursday, 10
am-10 pm Friday-Saturday. $.