How you pronounce "pho," the Vietnamese noodle soup, is almost as important as how you eat it. It's "fuh" and you really have to slurp.
At Pho Luu, there's a lot of uninhibited slurping happening - and with good reason. There are nearly two dozen varieties of pho available in three different sizes. The small bowl ($9.85) is plenty for two - or for one to take home leftovers. The medium ($10.93) looked like what I would call extra large, meaning that the largest ($12.02) was more similar to a kitchen sink.
Before the servings arrive, a plate of herbs and bean sprouts is placed on the table. This traditional set of accoutrements includes mint, cilantro and basil. Chili-garlic paste and Sriracha sauce are already on the table to create the desired level of heat. My friend likes his hot enough to generate beads of perspiration, without producing tears. It's a fine balance.
Shrimp, chicken, vegetables, tripe, meatball, rare steak, well-done brisket and flank steak are among the options. We ordered the rare steak. Although the proteins and noodles are important, it's the broth that determines its quality. Pho Luu's is rich and comforting. There's a depth of flavor that comes from homemade stock, along with traces of seasonings such as ginger and star anise.
A soup spoon is necessary for the broth, but chopsticks are needed for the noodles and steak. There truly is no way to eat pho except to slurp it, no matter how many times you've been told slurping is rude. Since at least half of our pho was taken home, we didn't get a chance to drink the remaining broth straight from the bowl - again something usually not encouraged in public, but an acceptable practice when eating - er, slurping - pho.
We enjoyed an order of spring rolls with grilled shrimp ($4.06). The peanut sauce for dipping was creamy and savory. The thick, tightly-rolled appetizers were full of fresh vegetables with plenty of plump shrimp.
Pho Luu also offers rice noodle bowls and "steam" rice plates. The rice plates ($9.47 to $12.45) featured the rice topped with a choice of grilled meats or vegetables.
We ordered the grilled pork ($9.47) noodle bowl. This was comprised of slender rice noodles topped with thin strips of marinated, grilled pork. Bean sprouts, diced cucumber, shredded lettuce, carrots and crushed peanuts round out the entrée. It was refreshing and while it didn't involve as much slurping as the pho, it did require a little.
When I pulled into the shopping center where Pho Luu is located, I worried it was closed because of the construction taking place on both sides of the small restaurant. Workers in hard hats were busy on either side, but it was business as usual for the eatery. One of the servers said the work is scheduled to be completed soon and it hasn't discouraged patrons. My friend and I spent quite a bit of time catching up while a steady stream of diners came to eat-in or take-out.
The décor is plain, which is a stark contrast to the lively flavors. I'd always rather be wowed by the food than by what's on the walls. Staff is friendly and efficient. I look forward to returning soon to continue practicing my slurping techniques.