Saturday, January 24, 2009

What da Pho? – Best Vietnamese Food

My new favorite place to enjoy a steaming bowl of Pho is at the “Ha Long Noodle House” in the City Square Shopping Center on Kalani Street between Nimitz Highway and Dillingham Boulevard.

The owner, a young 30-something Vietnamese American female, is a former elementary school teacher who decided one day to up and quit her job to pursue the dream of owning a restaurant. Her idea: a trendy Pho restaurant that serves authentic food at affordable prices.

When you arrive at Ha Long, named after the famous mountain ranges in northern Vietnam, you instantly know that it’s a Pho place of a different kind. It’s has a fresh and hip feel--the walls are painted an apple green with accents of customized contemporary wooden letters in black that spell words like “eat” “noodles” “pho.” The menus are round shaped and subtitled with clever phrases like “What the Pho?” and the dishes are served in tasteful ceramic bowls accented with apple green chopsticks especially purchased by hand on her last trip to San Francisco.

Despite the mod décor, the food is unexpectantly authentic and what one would expect at any local Pho place. I was pleased to find that Ha Long is not a fusion restaurant and does not serve an Americanized version of Vietnamese food. And despite the high start up cost for the business, the prices for each dish are what you would expect to pay for a bowl of Pho (soup), bun (vermicelli noodles) dish, spring rolls and other entrees.

The owner pays attention to details. Everything from the decor, logo, to special ordered wooden carvings were especially designed just for her. Open from 9am-9pm, Monday-Saturday (Sundays 9am-3pm), Ha Long makes a great place to stop off on your way to or from the Honolulu airport.

Ha Long Noodle House
City Square Shopping Center
1286 Kalani Street, B107
Honolulu, HI 96817

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