Here’s another one of those heartwarming success stories. Tony, a Vietnamese boat person, escaped Saigon and was sponsored here from a Malaysian island refugee camp by his American uncle. He worked hard, learned the business and became an engineer with an Oceanside turbine company where he has worked for more than 20 years.
With his wife, Tiffany, he opened a restaurant, Royal Pho, on East Vista Way one year ago this month. Decorated in damask and mirrors and chandeliers, it caters to transplanted Vietnam families and to neighbors enchanted with its authentic and affordable cuisine. Like the restaurant, the menu is a work of art with pictures and descriptions of the unusual dishes. Even the take-out menu is pretty.
Tony and Tiffany came late to the Vietnam food craze, but they have certainly upgraded it in an elegant way. Our previous experience with the genre featured neon and Formica. In the mid 1980s, a Vietnamese eatery opened in Orlando and became immediately popular. Soon, the food was available at small stand-like cafes in many areas, and of course the headquarters for the Pho (soup) and Khai vi (appetizer) is Orange County’s Little Saigon on Bolsa.
Our charming waitress, Tony’s niece, served us with Number 82, Ca rig a (curried chicken) $6.75 and I settled for a pair of Number 92, spring rolls $4.25. The dipping sauce for the latter was amazing. Around us, the youngsters in the room were enjoying Sinh to (smoothies) in all kinds of wonderful flavors The price was right at $3.50.
Tofu and vegetable stir-fry with steamed rice was about the most expensive dish at $8.55. Ditto for adding egg noodle, ditto for egg noodle crispy. We found a few $9.95 dishes, too, for fried rice with chicken, beef, shrimp, squid and green beans. Breaking the bank was a beef cube steak at $12.95. We looked at that served to a nearby table and were sure we could split it for dinner. My husband loved the chicken curry and the Thai tea. I loved the less spicy spring rolls.
Royal Pho is on the corner of Easy Vista Way and Arcadia at 1717 East Vista Way. Parking is adequate and a ramp leads up to the elevated strip mall location. Balloons reading Happy Anniversary decorate the porch. A few coupons for the celebration are available, and all month customers buy one noodle soup and get half off the second, or buy two and get one free. Dine in only. The restaurant is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Handicapped parking is available.
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