Finding great pho has become something of a mission, as good Vietnamese food can be hard to come by. There are only a few decent places around here, and (I'm assuming) due to health standards they can't serve raw beef on the soup so you aren't going to get the real experience. That said, here are the 3 best Vietnamese restaurants in the area we are aware of, in no particular order:
1. Van's Vietnamese Restaurant: This was the first Vietnamese restaurant I'd ever been to. It isn't bad, per se, but I feel the soup is pretty forgettable. Again maybe this is because I'd had the real thing fairly recently, so it's possible I'm being unfair, I just don't think Van when I get an itch for good pho or, for that matter, anything. That said, it's certainly decent and a good introduction to Vietnamese food, as the grilled pork R let me try off her plate was delicious. If you go here, try the entrees and leave the soup for one of the next places.
2. Saigon Spring: Based in Clifton Park, Saigon Spring is definitely the nicest looking restaurant, with a full bar and good sized, affordable menu. The pho here is pretty good, there's a lightness to the broth that makes it good for lunch on a cool day. Though the broth isn't very hearty, it is flavorful and enjoyable to eat, and the portions (as with all pho) are very generous. If you try any of the entrees, I would again suggest a pork and rice dish (Vietnamese recipes for marinating pork are amazing, just as an aside). Service is good, which I appreciate as I used to be a waiter.
3. Kim's Vietnamese Restaurant: This place just opened a few weeks ago, and we finally managed to get there and try it out this past weekend. The inside is a little dull and poorly lit, and it seems like they're still setting things up inside. It was also almost empty on a Friday night which was disappointing, because the pho was really good. The broth was very rich and hearty, so much so I couldn't even finish it (which has never happened), so it's definitely more of a dinner place. The flavors they worked into it were amazing, however, and the amount was good as well. If there was one weakness, the beef seemed pretty dry and overcooked though the beef balls were excellent. I can't suggest any other dishes as we've only been once, but if you like soup you owe it to yourself to try it here. Also, the servers were very attentive and courteous without being obtrusive, so in spite of the decor I was very pleasantly surprised by the experience.
Does anyone else have suggestions for good Vietnamese? As always, leave it in the comments. -J