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Inside Feature

Classic Vietnamese Cuisine At “Phobulous” Price

Story By Kelli Shiroma Photos By Nathalie Walker
September 4 - 10, 2011

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Located on the second level of Westridge Shopping Center, Pho My Lien prides itself on providing guests with a variety of Vietnamese cuisine at reasonable prices. Customers who visit the eatery receive a good-sized meal for the price they pay, according to Walter James, a close friend and business partner of restaurant owners Tommy Dang and wife Lien Bui.

  • Crispy Spring Rolls ($7.50)
  • Chef Phuong Vo
  • Broccoli Sauteed ($7.95)
  • Pho (Slices Of Rare Steak) ($7.95)
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“We’re giving you substantial portions at a very reasonable price,” James says. “The average price range per customer is about $12.”

Dang and Bui originally opened the Vietnamese eatery in 2000 on Ala Moana Boulevard, in front of Hilton Hawaiian Village. Bui, James says, used to work as a chef at Shirokiya, and the couple decided to open their own restaurant as a result of James’ encouragement and financial support. “Pho My Lien” is a combination of the couple’s names, as well as the restaurant’s signature dish, explains James.

“Tommy’s real name is ‘My’ (pronounced ‘Me’) in Vietnamese, but when he moved here from Vietnam, he changed his name to ‘Tommy,'” James says. “‘Lien’ (pronounced ‘Lin’) is his wife’s name and ‘pho’ (pronounced ‘fuh’) is the soup.”

The owners moved the restaurant to its current location last November, and despite the change in location, Pho My Lien’s menu has remained the same and the eatery continues to enjoy good business.

“The menu has been a popular menu and we have terrific repeat business,” James confirms. “The menu has been the same; the prices have almost remained the same for the past 10 years. There’s been very little increase (in prices).”

In addition to the reasonable prices, James adds that the taste of Pho My Lien’s dishes are the cause for frequent visits by clientele. Among the restaurant’s most popular dishes are the Crispy Spring Rolls ($7.50 for four) consisting of chicken, shrimp and pork as well as long rice, mushrooms and shredded carrots and served with mint leaves, rice noodles, sauce and lettuce and the Summer Rolls ($4.95 for two), made with rice vermicelli, mint leaves and bean sprouts, and served with the restaurant’s special peanut sauce or fish sauce. Customers can order the Summer Rolls with a variety of meats, such as shredded pork, barbecue beef or barbecue chicken.

Other menu items, including specialties such as Broccoli Sauteed ($7.95), also are popular with customers. Pho ($7.95), however, remains the restaurant’s signature item.

“It’s (pho) basically a Vietnamese vegetable soup with a chicken stock base and some added secret ingredients,” James says. “Any of the phos have a unique taste and they are all excellent.”

The pho dishes come with several different meat options, including slices of rare steak, beef’s soft tendon and beef balls. And the Pho with Slices of Rare Steak remains one of the more popular choices among customers.

The restaurant regularly offers monthly specials, and this month it’s Won Ton Soup (regular $7.50), or a shrimp and pork dumpling soup for $4.99. June also marks the launch of Oxtail Soup, which will appear on the restaurant’s menu for the first time.

“We’ll be offering the Oxtail Soup for $8.50 a bowl,” James says.

Beside menu additions, other changes are in order for the eatery this fall. In an effort to build up its takeout clientele, for example, Pho My Lien is offering a 15 percent discount on all takeout orders.

“Starting in October (and continuing in) November and December, we’re going to be having a 15 percent discount on all takeout,” James says. “We have a good amount of (customers who) dine in, but we’re trying to develop more takeout.”

Pho My Lien Vietnamese Restaurant

  • Where
    • Westridge Shopping Center
    • 98-150 Kaonohi St., Suite B213-B
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 488.4900
  • Hours
    • Monday-Saturday
    • 10 A.M.-10 P.M.
    • Sunday
    • 10 A.M.-8 P.M.