So I’m a recent Vietnamese food convert. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long, but nobody’s perfect. I’ve been eating banh mi for a couple of years now, and am obsessed, but I never really ventured any further into Vietnamese cuisine until one fateful day back in December when I stumbled on a tweet from Foodmancing The Girl talking about how much he loves Pho.
That first lunch was awesome. I took Foodmancing’s advice and got the pork belly buns (pork belly, pickled cucumber and carrots, hoisin, cilantro, $6), and those suckers were on point. The buttery bread, the perfectly cooked pork, the crisp pickled veggies…I’m drooling a little just thinking about them. If it wasn’t Friday during Lent, I’d probably head there for lunch right now.
The main purpose of my visit, however, was to try Pho for the first time. I was a little intimidated because I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I opted for the beef pho (rare beef, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, cilantro, thai basil, scallions, beef broth, $12) which was so good it’s sinful. Not really knowing what the protocol was, I just dumped in all of the accoutrements, including lots of hot sauce, which added a little more heat to the broth than I was prepared for, but it was still delicious. The beef was sliced really thin and cooked perfectly and the flavors of the soup came together perfectly. I was instantly a fan.
When Naomi came to visit, we were excited that CO had a vegan menu for her to choose from. We started out with a couple of fancy cocktails, which were delicious. Naomi really enjoyed her asian pear cider (spiced rum, schnapps, asian pear, cinnamon, $9) and I thought the spiced mandarin caipirinha (cachaca, grand marnier, muddled mandarin & lime, star anise simple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, $9.5) was pretty unique and awesome as well.
and then ordered some Tofu buns (crispy tofu, pickled cucumber and carrots, cilantro, $6) which were really good (although not as good as the pork belly. But as a carnivore, I might be biased). My only complaint is that without the hoisin sauce, they were a little dry.
I was trying to branch out and try something other than my usual pho, so I deferred to the waitress who recommended the hanoi noodles (spicy yellow curry, onion, carrots, zucchini, rice noodles, shrimp, shanghai sausage, $14). I really liked it, although the flavors started getting a little overwhelming towards the end. The shanghai sausage wasn’t my favorite, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked and really delicious. Also it’s asian food, so there’s a lot of grease.
Naomi was really sad that the green curry was not vegan for some reason (and they never responded to my tweet asking them why), so she ended up ordering the vegan yakisoba (rice noodles, tofu, cabbage, carrots, onion, zucchini, garlic, sweet mirin soy sauce, $14) instead. She absolutely loved it and was basically licking the bowl by the end. I really liked how well they cooked the tofu, which is high praise coming from me.
Next time I go, I really want to try the curry laksa (shrimp, shredded chicken, bun rice noodles, shredded cucumber, thai basil, baby bok choy, spicy coconut broth) and the mapo doufo (ground pork, tofu, edamame, carrots, black bean garlic sauce), which both sound delicious. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you check it out, especially their new $4 happy hour special weekdays from 4-7.
340 King St
Charleston, SC 29401