“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a difference between Vietnamese food and Chinese food,” owner Sandra La said upon the opening of her first location. “We use different flavors, like lemongrass, and incorporate more noodles into our dishes. While soy sauce is typically used in Chinese food, we use nuoc mam, a fish sauce made from anchovy extract, salt and sugar. For our stir fry, we use our homemade sauce, so that also sets us apart from other places.”
La’s brother-in-law, Thanh “Steve” Trinh, is in charge of the Antioch location, while his brother Minh is Pho Vietnam’s main chef.
“Our menu is the same,” said Trinh, comparing the two restaurants. The menu consists of 50 items, not including drinks, and offers vegetarian items on request. Neither location offers alcohol, a feature that enhances the family atmosphere.
The kitchen specializes in wok-fried garlic noodles. Also popular with patrons is beef noodle soup, rice plates, vermicelli bowls, and chef’s favorite noodles. Those unfamiliar to Vietnamese food would recognize beef cubes, which are similar in texture to filet mignon.
Although the Brentwood location has been open for more than a year, Vietnamese food is still unique to many East County residents. Trinh, who recently moved from San Jose – where Vietnamese restaurants are more common – wants people to know that although the food is filling, it’s also ideal for those on a diet.
“It’s low calorie. You don’t get fat,” said Trinh. “It’s hard to say that because I love hamburgers, I love pasta, but Vietnamese food is easy to digest.” Despite being low calorie, many menu items have a sweet accent.
Diners at Pho Vietnam experience more than food. They’re surrounded by a thoroughly Vietnamese environment augmented by artwork, poetry and sculpture.
Pho Vietnam, located at 3676 Delta Fair Blvd. in Antioch, is open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Tuesdays. For additional information, call 925-757-9999.