Pho Cali

By jaynemeth March 16, 2011

Pho Cali is composed of a big room accommodating a range of seating arrangements, and it's devoted exclusively to Vietnamese dishes. As with downtown's Taste of Asia, you'll find multitudes of items from which to choose. We began with the pancake appetizer, banh xeo tom thjt, a mix of shrimp, pork and vegetables folded into a rice-flour pancake. This is very large and extremely good. It's also very popular. Personally, I go for the crispy eggroll appetizers, which should be eaten with a sprig of fresh coriander and dipped in fish sauce.

The noodles are the thing here-you can hardly go wrong with any of the pho. This traditional Vietnamese soup is really not a soup, but a bowl of noodles cooked in a beef, chicken or fish stock that gets its character from the meat and vegetables added. It's all good.

Like pho, bun relies on gelatinous rice noodles, without the liquid in the dish. There's more emphasis on the vegetables and seasonings-mint, coriander and cucumber as a side relish add a freshness that's the essence of Vietnamese cooking for me. My favorite here is No. 78, or bun tom nurong, thjt nurong, cha gio. It includes both shrimp and pork, although sometimes the pork can be a bit greasy.

Pho Cali gets busy, and service ebbs and flows with the crowds. But there's hardly a friendlier place in town, regardless of the intensity of the house. Wine and beer are available at both places, and both restaurants are modestly priced.


1578 Main St., Sarasota

(941) 955-2683

Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Closed Sunday

Most credit cards (no Amex)

Handicap accessible

Parking on street


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