Vietnamese ◌ $ ◌ 51 Langley Road (Newton Centre)
About a week ago, I walked into Pho Viet’s II unsure of what to expect.
The restaurant had grown quickly in popularity at the Allston’s Super 88 Food Court, where it’s been going strong for 13 years. At the end of January, the renowned Vietnamese staple opened its second location in Newton Centre. After giving it time to settle, I finally decided it was time to give it a try. There was one problem: So did the rest of Newton.
By 6 p.m., it had stopped taking dine-in orders because it was so crowded, and ordering takeout would’ve been another hour wait.
The moral of that story is don’t go to a popular new Vietnamese restaurant on a Friday night. When I went back a week later—and an hour earlier—I watched the nearly empty space completely transform as more and more people walked in, either to pick up their takeout or to sit down for their meal.
How’s the service?
Despite intense rushes of diners, Pho Viet’s II’s employees remain composed, with smiles on their faces and pleasant interactions with customers.
When I asked for suggestions, they offered well-received recommendations.
The main issue they face is speed. I would consider Pho Viet’s II fast casual—with food quality definitely higher than most restaurants of the same category—but not particularly fast. Mind you, it is trendy at the moment, and it’s new, so there is certainly some adjusting to be done, a groove to be found, and kinks to be smoothed. The kitchen receives a plethora of orders for takeout and delivery in addition to the orders for those dining in. You can see that they don’t move slowly back there, but waiting half an hour for a bowl of soup and a sandwich is pretty steep.
The biggest complaint I have is that they don’t make glasses of water easily accessible to customers, which could easily be resolved if they just put out a jug of water with cups somewhere near the seating area.
What’s the atmosphere like?
Very casual. As I mentioned before, there’s a constant flow of customers funneling in and out of the restaurant. They positioned the dining area well enough so that dining customers are removed from the continuous bustle at the counter. For the purpose of organization, though, the counter isn’t very pragmatically placed because there’s only a tiny area for customers to make a line. It’s formed right in front of the door, so those entering walk straight into the middle of the line—put simply, it’s quite messy.
While ordering is a hectic experience, actually sitting and eating at Pho Viet’s II is very comfortable and casual with light, minimalist decor and happy chatter bouncing around the space.
How’s the food?
Get ready to eat, because Pho Viet’s II has an extensive menu and serves huge dishes. With various rice and noodle dishes, pho, banh mi, and even more traditional Vietnamese foods, customers have an array of options.
A bowl of pho—no more than $10—comes in a deep bowl that could easily be shared considering the portion. Due to the fact that it’s soup, however, that might not be a dish very conducive to sharing.
In 2017, The Improper Bostonian voted Pho Viet’s banh mi the best in Boston. Now, I’m not sure how many Vietnamese restaurants there are in Boston, but they truly deliver on that front. For costing less than six dollars, the sandwiches are surprisingly big. The bread is perfectly buttery, with a lightly crunchy crust and packed full of meat accompanied by crisp, refreshing vegetables. Although the sandwiches are the smallest section of the menu—and probably placed in the most inconspicuous spot—banh mi is really the star of Pho Viet’s II.
What’s the verdict?
Pho Viet’s II seems like the type of place that you should order take-out from, not because it has a poor restaurant environment—it’s quite pleasant—but because it’s not really worth sitting and waiting for your food that long when you could just enjoy it on your own couch in a similar amount of time. The food is delicious, the portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable.
Great for your soul, better for your wallet. If you’re willing to wait, Pho Viet’s II is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Otherwise, I’d recommend going between traditional meal times for a hearty portion of delicious Vietnamese food.
Featured Image by Mary Wilkie / Heights Editor