Cari Taylor-Carlson

Pho Viet Is Authentic Vietnamese

The dishes are tasty.

By - Sep 26th, 2017 01:45 pm
Pho Viet. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Pho Viet. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

I discovered Pho Viet on South 27th by accident because it’s adjacent to Pacific Produce, a humungous Asian grocery store. When a friend and I went to browse the groceries, I noticed Pho Viet and detoured next door. This turned out to be a happy diversion which introduced us to some never-before-tasted dishes with names I couldn’t even begin to pronounce.

Most of the customers had big bowls of Pho sitting in front of them. Pho, often considered the national dish of Vietnam, is regularly served on the street in cities.

I’m no stranger to Pho, so I passed on the dozen varieties listed on the menu. What they had in common was beef broth with rice noodles and a protein, everything from steak, meatballs, seafood, chicken, tendon, and tripe to a quail egg, just not all in the same bowl at the same time. They serve Pho with what they call a “side of vegetables,” a large portion of bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, mint, jalapeno slices, and lime. This combination of broth, protein, and greens, ends up being a simple, yet complex bowl of noodles some think of as soup, but it’s more than that, it’s a filling entrée when served in a restaurant.

Array of condiments. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Array of condiments. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

From an extensive menu of unpronounceables I chose Bahn Xeo, described in the menu as a Vietnamese crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. What came on my plate was not what I expected. Our server explained “Bahn Xeo” means sizzling cake, or the sound it makes when the batter is poured into a pan. And unlike the familiar French crepe, there was no egg in this one; the yellow color came from tumeric powder. It was crunchy, hard to eat with a fork, more like finger food, and it needed salt. I noted an array of condiments, Soy Sauce, Shiracha, and Hoisin, all of which when used profusely, upgraded my crepe from interesting but bland, to delicious. The flavors of the thin slices of shrimp and pork, plus the bean sprouts, as well as the crepe itself, came alive with the condiments. Like everything we sampled at Pho Viet, the crepe came with greens tossed in a light, almost imperceptible vinaigrette. Shredded pickled carrots hidden under the greens added tart, while Nuac Mam, a fermented fish sauce which I had previously encountered, potentially added another flavor, just not on my plate.

My companion spooned some Nuac Mam on his Bun Thit Ga Nuong, said it left a hint of fishy, but not enough to offend. He also said his dish, charbroiled chicken with rice noodles and vegetables tasted healthy. He thought the chicken had great charbroiled flavor while the vegetables were fresh and crisp. He too added Soy, Shiracha, and Hoisin and agreed the condiments redefined the dish.

On a second visit, we found the Tom Kho To, simmered caramel shrimp with onion and black pepper, did not hold back on the shrimp. More than a dozen tasted of black pepper but the caramel part of the dish escaped us. When we dumped the basic boring steamed white rice into the bowl, it soaked up the sauce, and picked up the peppery flavor from the shrimp.

For the Mi Xao Dau Hu, I had a choice of soft or crispy pan-fried egg noodles. I followed our server’s advice and ordered soft. This dish, a vegetarian’s delight with strips of sautéed tofu along with the vegetables, starred those egg noodles which had so much more flavor than the rice noodles found in most Vietnamese dishes. By the fourth entrée, I had taken for granted fresh tasty vegetables because that’s how they roll at Pho Viet.

I found one dessert on the beverage menu, Che 3 Mau. I ordered it to appease my sweet tooth and to satisfy my curiousity after I read the description. Starting at the top, it had layers of creamy coconut, green jelly cubes, sweet mung bean paste, and at the bottom, red beans, making a colorful, multi-textured, mildly sweet dessert.

Also from the beverage or Giai Khat menu, we sampled Nuoc Mia Tuoi and Xoa. The former, pure sugar cane juice, was overly sweet, no surprise, yet somehow refreshing, a contrast to the hot condiments we had used to drench our food. Our server explained they start with the sugar canes, cut them into short lengths, then, put them through a machine to extract the juice.

The second beverage, Xoa, was a mango smoothie, another antidote to spicy, and defined what a smoothie should be: thick, rich, full of mango flavor, with a fat straw to suck it up.

I can’t properly pronounce the foods I described, though I spelled them correctly, but I can say I’m glad I trekked to South 27th, twice, to eat some authentic Vietnamese food at Pho Viet.

On the Menu

The Rundown

  • Location: 5475 S. 27th St.
  • Phone: 414-282-8852
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mon-Sun
  • Website:
  • UM Rating: 3.45 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)

10 thoughts on “Dining: Pho Viet Is Authentic Vietnamese”

  1. Chuck says:

    The dishes are tasty? What about the silverware? How’d that taste? Did you have to add salt to that too? And I’m glad Pho in Milwaukee is served in a bowl and not on the street like it is in Vietnam.

  2. Observer says:

    Bahn Xeo, pronounced bon seeyow, IS a finger food and not eaten with a fork any more than with pizza. Think of the pseudo-Chinese lettuce wraps of P.F. Changs.

  3. Tony Lee says:

    “Chuck” is an IGNORANT and an IDIOT who (I bet) has never eaten real gourmet food, who goes to fast food chains and says “I can’t wait to taste real food”, who considers olive garden “Italian food”. We cook Pho at home frequently. The broth alone takes at least 6 hours to properly prepared (low and slow). The dish is prepared with love and passion, something idiot-chuck has never experienced nor ever able to comprehend. It’s because of idiots like this “chucked” that gives the left the opportunity to use terms like racist, fascist, white supremacist, and a bunch of more crap in order to derail the USA further.

  4. Tony Lee says:

    “Bánh xèo” in Vietnam is hand wrapped upon eating with “Cải bẹ xanh” (close to mustard green), not lettuce. Cultural exchange means MUTUAL respect. What’s “anti-American”? It’s the narrow-minded, been nowhere and seen nothing yet make judgements against anything they view as “alien” (ie. IGNORANCE). FACT: This country were ROBBED from the natives who were murdered and forced off their land. ALL citizens of the United States are immigrants (except for illegals) who MUST contribute to this country one way or another to earn the right to live here. So for the idiot, ignorant and racist “chuck” (there are plenty like him) to write such an offensive comment against another culture which he knows nothing about (to be fair, the author of this article feeds him negative idea when comparing phở to just a street food), it’s laughable not only to Vietnamese American but also to Americans of all races who are EDUCATED, OPEN-MINDED, WELL TRAVELED (ie. really been there done that).

  5. GreenDoor says:

    I would just like to thank the author for reviewing a restaurant that isn’t downtown or on the East side or some other trendy neighborhood. It’s hard to find reviews of places for those of us that can’t or don’t wish to venture into the city’s “hot spots.”

    Good to know that this non-chain place exists on the far south side. I hope to see more reviews of restaurants in the more far-flung parts of Greater Milwaukee.

  6. Chuck says:

    “far-flung” LOL. It’s 27th & Grange, not Siberia. If you can’t find a review of non-downtown/east side restaurants you’re not looking hard enough, if at all. Check out any of the numerous Milwaukee-centric websites and you’ll be sure to easily find what you’re looking for.

  7. tom says:

    Way to go Tommy Lee. Thanks for calling out ignorance and racism.

  8. tom says:

    Sorry. Way to go Tony Lee.

  9. Cate says:

    I really like Pho Viet as well, and it’s good to see something reviewed that’s on the South side and not Brkfld, or E.side. I really love the soup and the terra cotta pot dishes.

  10. EmilyE says:

    I stopped in to try Pho Viet when visiting friends in Milwaukee. The Bun Bo Hue was delicious! Would love to go back again!

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