Monday, January 30, 2012

Vietnam's Pho in the Strip District

When it comes to Vietnamese restaurants in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh isn't exactly a mecca for it. In fact, I find that some of the Vietnamese restaurants to be underwhelming. I won't name names at least just yet. That will be for another blog post. However I feel that Vietnam's Pho is one of the better Vietnamese restaurants in Pittsburgh(I've been there 3 times). Reason being is that their food is consistently good, and I can't get enough of their pho soups. With that said, I recently made a trip to the restaurant and decided to blog about them.

Anytime I go to Vietnam's Pho, I always order an appetizer. What I like about Vietnamese appetizers is that they are not huge, thus you can finish your main dish fairly easily. I ended up ordering the Goi Cuon(spring rolls) which comprises of shrimp, pork, vermicelli, and fresh veggies rolled into rice paper. I like how the rolls have a fresh, light taste to it. By itself it doesn't have a whole lot of flavor, but when you dip it into the hoisin sauce with ground peanuts, the roll goes into a whole other level.

The main dish that I ordered was the Pho-Tai Sach which is a Pho soup that has beef eye round and beef tripe as the main ingredients. I find that always order Pho because it's one of the more challenging and time consuming dishes to make and I know the Vietnamese chefs will always make it better than I could. Despite that, I do want to make it a goal to make pho soup just to see if I can do it successfully. But back to the soup, it was very flavorful. The broth was hot and salty, but not too salty. I made the soup spicier by adding chili sauce. I was sweating a bit by the time I was done. The meats were pretty good especially the beef tripe. I wish they would have put more beef tripe in the soup but you can't win them all. Beef tripe comes from the cow's stomach, just in case if not everyone knows.

All in all, I would recommend Vietnam's Pho to anyone. Pittsburgh might not be a mecca for Vietnamese food, but Vietnam's Pho has certainly been a bright spot for sure.

Vietnam's Pho on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rey Azteca in Monroeville

A few weeks back, I had to do a few errands in Monroeville. Growing up I always thought Monroeville had a food scene. What I considered good food at the time was Outback Steakhouse, Bob Evans, Applebee's, you pretty much get the picture. But having tried many different restaurants over the years in different neighborhoods, Monroeville ranks in the bottom of my list of places to go to find good food. As I was driving through Monroeville, I realized that there was a new Mexican restaurant in the area called Rey Azteca, which is a local regional chain. I was hoping that Rey Azteca would somewhat "save" the restaurant scene in Monroeville, but it didn't quite to do that.

The inside of Rey Azteca was fairly plain and nothing special. Normally I don't make a big fuss with this kind of stuff, but the place didn't seem very lively even if there were was a good amount of customers at the time. If they spruced the placed up a more, I would have been more comfortable.

One of the best parts about going to any Mexican restaurant is the potential to get complimentary chips and salsa and Rey Azteca was certainly no different. The salsa was fresh, but it could have been a little bit more spicier for my taste. The chips were good and crunchy. I've had better chips and salsa at other places, but Rey Azteca's take on it wasn't too bad.

The entree that I ordered was the Camarones Al Mojo de Ajo(Grilled shrimp marinated with Mexican garlic sauce served with lettuce, guacamole dip, tomato, shredded cheese, rice and 3 flour tortillas on the side). The ingredients went well together(I like the fact that they didn't put a whole lot of cheese), but the biggest knock on the dish was a lack of flavor. I thought the garlic sauce tasted bland which hindered the overall flavor of the dish. Overall not the best Mexican dish I ever ate.

To sum it up, Rey Azteca didn't really help improve the food scene of Monroeville. But despite that, I would give the restaurant a second chance because I only tried one dish, and maybe all their other dishes are better. Next time I will definitely ask for a spicier salsa ;).

I would give perfect directions, but they don't have a website thus I don't have their street address. However, I can roughly tell you it's towards the end of William Penn Hwy in Monroeville on the way to Pittsburgh. It's in the same building as my other "favorite" restaurant Applebee's.
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