THE READER FOODIE/Yvonne Worrell Pover – Pho Tum Yum’s imaginative take on Vietnamese


Much more than just another Pho place, Pho Tum Yum has a varied and imaginative take on traditional Vietnamese cooking, with many special entrees and appetizers which go beyond the usual fare, adding some Thai touches that make the restaurant unique.
The food is delicious, with careful presentation–and inexpensive.
The restaurant itself is pretty–light, airy, and really clean. Soft Asian background music lends atmosphere  without being overwhelming.
As a connoisseur of Pho, the delicious, filling but light Vietnamese beef noodle soup, I can say Pho Tum Yum’s Pho is the best I have tasted in Northern Virginia. One version (for which the restaurant is named) has seafood or chicken and lemon grass–a Thai touch. The best Pho restaurants make their own stock; they do not use canned. You can taste the difference. Nothing better on a cold winter–or summer’s–day than a large bowl of Pho garnished with bean sprouts, basil, and green chilies. Low fat and calorie, satisfying, and guaranteed to cure what ails you.
Several visits later I and my guests have sampled a number of the dishes and appetizers. Spring rolls are crispy and fresh. Summer rolls have a translucent soft rice wrappers so that you can see the shrimp, sticky rice, and lettuce bits artfully arranged inside.
Caramel fish, salty pork chop, shrimp with red curry–all have been excellent. Service is attentive and staff are eager to explain the menu to you. I tend to order my favorites every time but the staff have graciously provided samples of other dishes to taste before ordering.
There are several varieties of Vermicelli bowl, which is a cold salad of lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrots, bean sprouts, shrimp or chicken, and topped with a vinegar garlic sauce. There are many delicious shrimp dishes to choose from–sesame shrimp is a standout.
Unusual for an Asian restaurant, they also offer slush and fresh fruit smoothies “Boba Magic” in a variety of flavors, along with various desserts, like cheesecake. We were offered a house creation called mocha colada, a refreshing chocolate/ pia colada slush served in a martini glass and topped with crumbled coconut.
They are open for lunch and dinner daily.

Partners Michael Tran and Andy Lai opened their doors in January 2008. Located in the same shopping center as Tempt Asian, Mama’s Pollo, Hee Been, and the Grand Mart supermarket, West End Alexandrians have a one-stop location for a variety of excellent restaurant choices. 
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