Phō Real

~ Pho Real closed November, 2014. ~

I tried pho once… and left the Jacksonville hot spot unimpressed. It took several facebook friends to convince me to try again- it appears that St. Augustine’s Phō Real has a devoted local following! So on a recent date night, hubby and I headed over the Bridge of Lions to Phō Real. We reasoned that even if we didn’t love pho this time either, we could check out their sushi and the night wouldn’t be a complete wash. We were in for a few surprises that night!

Surprise #1: I actually like Kimchi.

Spicy Kimchee with a sweet twist of spiced peaches at St Augustine's Pho Real.
Spicy Kimchi with a sweet twist of spiced peaches at St Augustine’s Pho Real.

The only thing I knew of kimchi was that it’s fermented a long time. At $6, I figured I could afford a taste adventure…

Spicy and slightly sour {did I mention spicy?}, I thoroughly enjoyed Phō Real’s take on kimchi! I have since tried the papaya salad (also fermented) and did not like it as much. Both are highly nutritious and worth a try!

Surprise #2: Phō Real really knows how to make sushi.

The hand roll special at Pho Real had a slice of spiced peach- unique and flavorful!
The hand roll special at Pho Real had a slice of spiced peach- unique and flavorful!

We ordered a hand roll off the special board and a Hooper Roll {$12} as appetizers. I’m 7 months pregnant and always hungry these days, so I was excited to have a filling start to our evening while we waited for the pho. The sushi looked and tasted amazing when it arrived… with our Phō. I think next time I’ll ask for it to come before dinner.

If you’re a sushi fan, sit at the sushi bar or just let your server know you’re up for an adventure. I hear they do many rolls that aren’t listed on the menu.

My favorite sushi in St Augustine is at Pho Real. It's always been fresh and flavorful and many combos are unique!
My favorite sushi in St Augustine is at Pho Real. It’s always been fresh and flavorful and many combos are unique!

And then the moment of truth arrived. Phō. Would it be “meh” like the other restaurant? Or would Phō Real’s slow roasted, small batch recipe prove more rich and flavorful?

I asked Gat, our server, how in the world to eat it. He suggested adding the veggies from the accompanying plate and then seasoning to taste with sriracha and hoisin sauce. I tentatively took a sip and decided the broth was quite flavorful so I added a bit of sriracha for a kick and dumped in the sprouts, aromatics and veggies but decided not to mess up the rich beefy flavor with too much hoisin. It was warm, rich and comforting… I found a pho I love.

Beef Pho St Augustine
Beef Pho St Augustine

Now what in the world do I do with all those noodles? They certainly won’t fit on the spoon! We had fun making a video on “How to Eat Pho” to help other newbies:


Toward the end of dinner, Janetta came in and we heard her story of being introduced to Vietnamese food and how much it became part of her life from childhood. Asian food is probably the fare I’m least versed in, so it was such a treat learning the how-to’s of some dishes I’d tried but knew little about. We also learned that Joel is the mastermind behind the sushi bar {great combos, Joel!} and Janetta convinced him to slip outside for a quick picture.

Hands-on Pho Real owners, Joel and Janetta.
Hands-on Pho Real owners, Joel and Janetta.

As a new St. Augustine restaurant in its first year, Phō Real is experiencing some growing pains. Parking seems trickier than it is (turn into the lots on either side of the sign and low wall, both belong to Phō Real), the sign has weeds at the foot of it but it’s not because they’re closed, and they’ve recently added some seating outside which is starting to warm up the exterior a bit! Inside, expect a sparse, urban, clubby feel that is unusual for St. Augustine. Set aesthetic expectations aside and give the food a try. You’ll find it to be REAL good!

Phō Real
113 Anastasia Blvd
~ Pho Real closed November, 2014. ~

 

Comments

  1. says

    Thank You, Simply St Augustine, for taking us on a new experience.
    I enjoyed going through the taste adventures!

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