I once read in an Asian cookbook that in Vietnam the best food is served in the worst settings. That might hold true for Pho Tho.
The food was great – it’s one of the few real pho restaurants in Temecula. The prices were typical, but the atmosphere was cold.
I don’t recall what restaurant was there before Pho Tho moved in about a year ago, but it embellished the architecture with classical-style pillars. They’re still there, and they don’t lend much to Southeast Asian dining.
The restaurant is quiet – a single plasma-screen television mounted on the bare wall gives the only background noise – so you can hear every other diner’s conversations.
The place has two dining rooms divided by an archway; one room has 10 tables, the other has six. The patio is huge, but it has no tables.
Still, the food they serve is great.
The bun tom nuong – or cold vermicelli with charbroiled shrimp – came with six shrimp and plenty of noodles and veggies served over salad. Mixed with the flavorings on the table, it was simple but flavorful. It cost $7.50.
The com xao chay – stir-fried tofu with mixed vegetables and rice noodles – was similar. It was simple and good. It came in a curry with white rice, but it wasn’t heavy. The fresh cilantro livened it up. It cost $7.95.
The goi cuon chay – Vietnamese spring rolls – were typical and a nice addition the meal for only $3.95.
The employees are a bunch of young guys who dress super-casually and are laid-back and friendly, which is another redeeming factor.
If you’re in the shopping center on the northeast corner of Ynez and Rancho California roads and you like pho, this is great. It might be a good place to go to lunch with a friend, but if you’re looking for a nice place to take a date, steer clear. In fact, head over to . The atmosphere’s lavish, and the prices are about the same.
Pho Tho's open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It's at 27644 Ynez Road.