What: The BBQ Pork and Egg Roll Vermicelli Bowl
Where: Pho Vu, 34260 Monterey Ave., Palm Desert; also at 79630 Highway 111, No. 103, La Quinta; coming soon to 285 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
How much: $8.95
Contact: 760-324-1888 (Palm Desert); 760-775-2417 (La Quinta); phovurestaurant.com
Why: Pork and “Vietnamese vinaigrette” rock together.
Let’s face it: With a few notable exceptions, the Asian-food scene in the Coachella Valley is pretty dismal.
Yeah, there are some good Thai and Indian joints … but how many truly outstanding, say, Chinese-food restaurants are there? Heck, let’s not even go that far: How many better-than-passable Chinese-food restaurants are there?
The same can be said for Vietnamese food—although things are improving, thanks in large part to the introduction of Pho Vu, with newish restaurants in Palm Desert and La Quinta, and a third location coming soon to Palm Springs.
I recently stopped by the Pho Vu in Palm Desert, located in one of those seemingly endless strip malls near the intersection of Dinah Shore Drive and Monterey Avenue. I was craving one of my fave Vietnamese dishes: bún, aka a vermicelli bowl, with lettuce, cucumber, mint, cilantro, green onions, nuoc cham (touted on the menu as a “Vietnamese vinaigrette”; it’s a fish-sauce-based dressing, of sorts) and one’s toppings of choice; I chose pork and egg roll.
I am elated to report that my craving was more than satisfied.
One of my favorite things about good bún is that it’s a veritable cornucopia of textures, flavors and even temperatures: The noodles are soft; the warm pork is slightly chewy and salty; the cool veggies are crisp and just a wee bit bitter; and the fish sauce is tart and vinegary. Despite the incredible sensory variety, it all comes together beautifully.
Yeah, the Asian-food world in the Coachella Valley has a loooog way to go. But it’s on the upswing, thanks in part to Pho Vu.