New thrills for your taste budsAli Carte Columns
April 27, 2014
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
For many foodies in Hawaii, pho is their go-to Vietnamese dish, and with good reason. The healthy, clean noodle soup — often accented with beef or chicken and loads of fresh Thai basil, lime and chili — is undoubtedly irresistible, especially on a rainy day. Many diners don’t realize, though, that a whole world of Vietnamese cuisine just as pure, nutritious and mouthwatering as pho is waiting to be discovered, right here at home.
You can find it at the family run restaurants, and none quite compare to Pho My Lien in Aiea. For more than 10 years now, husband and wife duo Tommy Dang and Lien Bui have served authentic dishes from Vietnam, where they both are from, to patrons in Hawaii. The eatery was originally located in Waikiki before moving to its current abode at Westridge Shopping Center in 2010.
From salad and barbecue meat to summer rolls and bun, Pho My Lien takes customers on a culinary trip to Southeast Asia through its wide selection of menu items. “We want people to try more varieties on the menu,” says Walter James, the couple’s financial advisor and public relations partner, noting that customers won’t easily find better quality meals for more reasonable prices.
When expanding Vietnamese flavor horizons, James says patrons can’t go wrong with savory stir-fries. Showcasing a mix of lemongrass, onions and enlivening seasonings, Hot Spicy Lemongrass Stir Fried ($7.95) explodes with flavor. To complement the vegetables, diners may choose from chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or tofu, and the dish packs quite a punch thanks to the house-made chili-based sauce it’s made with.
“We can make it mild, medium or as spicy as you want it,” explains James.
All of Pho My Lien’s dishes are made to order by Bui herself, who has been perfecting her menu of traditional recipes for decades. “A lot of these recipes come from her mother. Her mother taught her how to cook,” adds James.
Mixed Vegetable Sauteed ($7.95) quickly is becoming another go-to entrèe among regulars, as it’s piled high with vivacious ingredients such as broccoli, onion, cabbage and carrots. Bui’s creation is cooked and well-seasoned with a touch of her chicken-based pho broth, and it’s presented on a bed of lettuce.
Like many of Pho My Lien’s selections, the choice of protein included in the dish suits any preference. Vegetarian friendly tofu is available, while chicken, pork, beef or shrimp satisfy meat- and seafood-lovers.
With true Vietnamese stir-fries like these, instead of ordering a soup, why not opt pho something else?
Pho My Lien
Westridge Shopping Center
98-150 Kaonohi St., Ste. B213-B, Aiea
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m, and 8 p.m. Sunday