Wine Dine and Play: Tasty Phở

Tasty Phở

The Phở Challenge
Pinellas Park, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Vietnamese, sub-regional
Dined in February 2016 and April 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
There are three main regions in Vietnam when it comes to the styles of cuisine, with many sub-regions to each. Vietnamese food does not use a lot of fried oils just like traditional Thai food. It is in the United states with our fried food mentality that healthy food gets turned into the stepping stone of diabetes, heart attacks, and obesity. You don’t see a lot of fat people in Eastern Asia, and it's not because they are starving. But ever since McDonalds and GMO’s were introduced to China, the obesity epidemic has been growing. With an abundant usage of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, Vietnamese cuisine is on of the healthiest choices when dining out and the Tasty Phở is no exception to that health rule. I “challenge” you to find healthier Asian in Pinellas. 



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Main review:
Due to colder climate, spices are limited and therefore the foods in the North are lighter in taste and the flavors are more natural.  In central Vietnam, the meals are more sophisticated and often served in many complex dishes in smaller portions like the Spanish do with tapas.  In the South, the region’s cuisine is known for their spicy food, which is identical to how Indian cuisine regions are separated, and all of it relates to climate, not what can be genetically modified.  

In Southern Vietnam, the French, Thai, and Chinese cuisines have a big influence. You will find ingredients like coconut milk, sugar, curry, garlic, shallots, seafood, fresh herbs, and lots of vegetables.  This leads to flavors that are much more vibrant and sweeter. Tasty Phở selections are more towards the middle in the central Vietnam area, where they offer some spice but also natural flavor profiles as well. After all, one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes is Phở, and as Vietnamese began to immigrate to the United States as the war came to a close, they knew that Phở was the one recognized item that would bring people through the front door. 

When I prepare chef action tables and label it as a South East Asian soup, one or two people line up. If I serve the same soup and call it Phở, then the line goes out the door. Where I work we don’t get all the herbs used in the Phở recipe so without the star anise I call it Asian soup or as my wife recommends to call it “Faux Phở.” The truth in menu concept is important, and the older American generation knows from experience that the Northern part of Vietnam was the enemy. Little do most realize that though Phở is available all over the country, it originated thanks to the French incorporating some items with a traditional soup just south of Hanoi in the Nam Định Province, in the North. The French and Chinese influence on the soup was to add the beef, which they called ngưu nhục phấn

The Tasty phở restaurant is located in a small shopping center neighbored with a CVS, suntrust Bank, and four other smaller restaurants from a Hibachi buffet to an Italian eatery. The inside of Tasty phở is well lite, extremely clean, and well decorated, not going over the top like a lot of Chinese restaurants in the same type of location tend to do. With the times my wife and I went, we saw a few other tables, but we usually came either before or after the lunch rush. 

Menu (Thực Đơn Chính):
    • Appetizers
    • Salads
    • Phở
    • Congee Soup
    • Vermicelli Noodle Salad
    • Bánh Mì
    • Broken Rice
    • Chef Specialities 
    • Tasty Chè
    • Bubble Tea
When we first dined here together my wife had already been here a few times, and we both enjoyed the classic phở dish with her having the chicken (Phở Gà) and for me being the beef. The classic and aromatic broth is filled with licorice tasting star anise, charred ginger and onions, daikon radish, cinnamon, cloves, fish sauce, and flank steak. From there on the side you can add Sriracha hot sauce or Hoisin to go along with the other toppings and accompaniments. These items include fresh mint, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, limes, and sliced chili peppers.
Phở Gà
Other soup dishes to the menu and common to Vietnam include Seafood (Phở Hải Sản), and beef meatball (Phở Bò Viên). There Gỏi Cuốn, Spring Rolls are also tasty which is one of the only Americanized items to their menu, which every Asian restaurant adds in no matter if they are a Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or other restaurant. The reason for this, is they know that Americans like them, they are cheap and easy to make, plus the profit on them is money in the bank to these restaurants. 

Earlier I mentioned that it would be a challenge to find healthier food, and the article title is a phở challenge. This challenge if you take it is a massive serving of phở, either beef or chicken, with large sums of noodles in the pounds range not the ounce. If you consume the entire dish you receive a reward, your picture is taken and placed on the wall, and you are highlighted on their Facebook page. I am tempted to take the challenge, but as a warning, the average phở dish cost $8.00 to $12.00 and the challenge if you fail will cost you $35.00. Success equals free meal.

Let it be known that most Americans come to these restaurants to eat the spring roles and the phở, but there is much more on the menu to choose from, and the flavors, presentation, and quality are out of this world. Try the Lemongrass chicken with rice (cơm gà xào sả ớt), or the Meatball sandwich (Bánh Mì Xíu Mại), and two of my personal favorites including the egg noodle entree (Mì Thập Cẩm), and (pictured below) the grilled pork vermicelli (Bún Thịt Nướng) which had an abundance of fresh vegetables from snap peas, onion, cilantro, basil, carrots and much more, that my wife enjoyed it more than her Phở Gà.
Bún Thịt Nướng
Earlier I talked about topping your Vietnamese dishes with Sriracha. Though a Vietnamese hot sauce, it was invented in the Chinatown district Los Angeles in 1980 by David Tran, the owner of Huy Fong Foods Inc., and has become a world wide hit, and must have item in the kitchen shelf. I keep one with me as well, as it goes great with anything.

Dessert:
Chè (pronunciation: schèas) it is called in the Vietnamese language to means traditional sweet beverage dessert, most of which are made with varieties of beans, jellies, and fruits then topped with syrup, coconut milk, and shaved ice. They have nine varities on their menu to choose from. you can also finish off with a bubble tea or boba tea called Trân châu.




Other Noteworthy Vietnamese & East Asian articles:
Simply Phở, Contemporary Vietnamese in modern digs in Tampa, Florida
Junsui An eclectic taste of Asia with buffets at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, UAE
Basil Asian Bistro Pan-Asian favorites from China to Vietnam with sushi specials in Canton, Ohio
The Lemon Grass Casual fusion of Thai and Japanese with tapas portions in St Petersburg, Florida
Osaka Sushi & Thai Restaurant Thai and Japanese fare including sushi in Seminole, Florida
5A5 Steak Lounge Modern Japanese steakhouse with chic design in San Francisco, California



Other Pictures:


Beerlao is the generic name of beers produced by the Lao Brewery Company of Vientiane, Laos




Final notes, review basics, and observations:

What is a restaurant review? How does the rating system work? Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience. I put you at the table with me, and to be objective. My goal is to be impeccable with my word, being honest in the review, never making assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors with 70 questions broken down by individual experience. They include: wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, plus a bonus section called wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Over all from this experience, and using my rating system linked above, I give Tasty Phở a 3 out of 5 stars, meaning that they exceeded all of my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants. The six factors used to get this rating are scored in the chart below

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Ambiance
10
9
1
Food quality
10
6.5
2.5
Plate presentation
9
8
1
Customer service
7.5
6
1.5
Alcohol and other beverages
2
0.5
1.5
Total regular points awarded
38.5
30
7.5
Total percentage Before Bonus

0.779220779220779

“Wow” factor BONUS
5
1
0
Total bonus percentage

0.025974025974026

Total percentage with bonus for final star rating

0.805194805194805

Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5
3

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**






5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of a Michelin rating
   94 - 100%
(105% with full bonuses added)
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
65 - 61%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below



Overall Star Rating:
3 of 5 Stars: 
81% Rating with a 1 point “wow” bonus
Exceeded all my Expectations in a Dining Experience
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Cuisine style:
Café, Modern, Seafood, Vietnamese, Pescatarian, and Vegetarian
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. If not then
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Hot spot, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Public lot
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio:
No








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upscale locally sourced seafood eatery with ocean views
Indian Shores
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Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 


**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant or wine connoisseur’s**

My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$40.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$
$53.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$$
£31.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
$54.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$
¥272.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥
€36.00
European Union (EUR)
Currency rates as of June 2017

 Alcohol Prices:

$54.00


Tasty Phở:
7430 49th Street North 
Pinellas Park, Florida 
33781



Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 727-851-9997
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)

Mon-Thur:
10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri-Sun:
10:00 am - 10:00 pm
webpage contact:
Social Media 
Accolades:
Facebook link              




****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list on who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine, Dine, and Play best of list is based on my rating numbers of 4 or 5 stars. Less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including Michelins, a sampling of some are below. They include fine dining, mom and pops + holes in the wall. To visit my full list of the best, follow this link:


A few to tease you with…
Haute French Cuisine
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High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Acclaimed high-concept inspired Farm to Table tavern
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA





So many great wines in this world, here are a few boutiques, cult wines, and favorites:


20+ Blue Ridge Handcrafted Wines
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Big, Bold, Cult Cabernets 
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A Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Agincourt, Waterloo, Salamanca
Yarra Valley, Australia
World Class Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
Not Kehlsteinhaus, Exceptional Shiraz
Constantia, South Africa









Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Glorified Cook (Exec Chef)
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker,
Restaurant nut, History, and 
Star Trek lover


I am based in Florida, and have worked in the food service industry for over twenty years, from restaurants to contracting in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Antarctica. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in 2012. Since then over 350 articles have been written, including some San Pellegrino, Michelin, and Elite Travelers Guide top restaurants. Other articles include food recipes, a Grand Food Dictionary, ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan and Peruvian, tasting tours, exotic locations, and wine from vineyards in the old and new world alike.

Who is John Galt?





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“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






TTFN

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