Restaurant: Pho Ba Luu – Louisville, Kentucky
Brace yourselves, friends…
I’m finally getting back to restaurant reviews. I have been so busy as of late that I’ve been skipping these important reviews both locally and when I travel. And that is stopping…as of now.
I made a promise to be better about updating my blog, and, by God, I’m going to stick to it.
So…I have the pleasure of being friends with some amazing people who just happen to be foodies! And…they seem to be as excited about trying different places around town as I am. And that…means LOTS of fun trying out new places with good people who aren’t afraid to be honest and outgoing.
Being a foodie is fun.
While I have my favorite places here in Louisville, some great new places have moved in and opened up. And one of those places is Pho Ba Luu, in Butchertown. Pho Ba Luu, as my can probably guess, serves Saigon Street Food. Think the obvious pho…in addition to rice bowls, banh mi sandwiches, as well as rice bowls.
As I tend to do when I am going to new restaurants, I contacted them to find out if I, being a Celiac and vegetarian, could eat anything there. Jessica Mach e-mailed me back and let me know exactly what was safe for me. All the pho bowls, by the way, are gluten free. Just don’t get the hoisin sauce. The spring rolls are also safe…and they offer gluten-free soy sauce as well. The staff was INCREDIBLY knowledgeable too after we visited and placed our order. So…bit shout-out for those, who like me, have food allergies and intolerances and need a little extra care at restaurants.
So…four foodies drove into Butchertown specifically for some Vietnamese food. And, let me tell you, there were some high standards to be met. Paul is actually part Vietnamese and his wife, Melissa and he actually have had street food in Vietnam. They actually ordered first. Paul got the Chicken Pho ($10) and Chicken Spring Rolls ($5) for his dinner. Melissa ordered the Chicken Pho ($10…because it doesn’t change…LOL!) and the Shrimp Spring Rolls ($5). They each also ordered the Iced Vietnamese Coffee ($5), which I want to try next time because it looked AMAZING! It’s happening.
Cathy (that’s the roomie, in case you are new to the blog or have forgotten during my hiatus on reviews) decided to go all meaty and gluten-y since she doesn’t get that at home. She ordered the Beef Pho ($11) with the Seafood & Pork Crispy Rolls ($6). I may get asked…maybe not…but in case…the Seafood & Pork Crispy Rolls were crispy rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, crabmeat, onion and vegetables and is served with a fish sauce. So that’s for all of you non-vegetarian/vegan gluten eaters out there! She’s got your back!
As for me…I ordered the Vegetarian Pho ($10) with the Vegetarian Spring Rolls ($5). The spring rolls are normally served with a Plum Sauce, but as I noted gluten-free at the order, they brought me gluten free soy sauce instead.
Let me say this…the four of us are already discussing going back next Friday to celebrate Tet (the Vietnamese New Year) this coming week. Not. Even. Joking.
Because when it comes to good food…I don’t make those kinds of jokes.
So…here’s the run-down from what I was devouring last night. I’ll start with the spring rolls. The Vegetarian Spring Rolls are basic fried tofu with sauteed vegetables and glass noodles wrapped in rice paper. They looked fantastic. They tasted phenomenal. The gluten-free soy sauce was the perfect touch. I love spring rolls as it is…these were some of the best I have had. And that’s no exaggeration. They are simple…but they bring the flavor and the textures just all worked.
But, of course , the star of the Vietnamese Food scene last night…was the Pho!! First of all…the bowls are pretty big and we all had another meal’s worth left over after dining last night. No joke. Hey…it meant we had lunch today. So…be aware that there is a LOT of volume in these bowls. The Vegetarian Pho has sauteed tofu and vegetables in a vegetable broth. You get a little baggie of all the add-in goodies…like bean sprouts, jalapenos, and the like. I poured them all in. I added a good helping of Sriracha. And once I was done with my Spring Rolls…in went the remaining gluten-free soy sauce.
FLAVOR!! That’s all I can say. The broth had amazing flavor as it was. The tofu and vegeatlbes…they brought extra goodness to the party. The carrots still had some crisp to them. The tofu was savory and soft and just…done to perfection. The add-ins brought a little more spice…a little more texture…a little more yumminess to an already yummy situation. I was in love and I managed to not splash myself with anything as I ate the noodles with chopsticks and slurped up that broth with the spoon.
This gluten-free vegetarian loved every bit of the meal last night. And I think my partners in street food would agree. Cathy loved the Beef Pho and her Crispy Spring Rolls. While she does like spring rolls, she LOVED the crispy rolls. I think she will never NOT get those. The beef finished up cooking in the hot broth when it was delivered to the table and after she sorted out the jalapenos to both Paul and I from her bag of goodies…she was all in. And loving in!
And my Chicken Pho eaters…they were quite content with their bowls too. They seriously raved about the flavor and I believe they even said it came very close to the street food they had in Vietnam. So…there it is. OH…and Melissa highly recommends the Iced Vietnamese Coffee. She got two of them last night if that tells you anything!! The Chicken Spring Rolls & Shrimp Spring Rolls disappeared as quickly as my Vegetarian ones.
Any way you slice it…we loved everything we ate here.
Yeah…I went there. I can’t help myself sometimes!!
So…anytime I get to eat a big bowl of pho without having any reaction to it because everyone who works there made sure my food was safe and perfect…gets many return visits from me. I can’t wait to go back.
And…for the record…they have a Gluten Free Apple Pie ($6)…that we were all too full to try…but we may have to get it next time and split it among us. Because…dessert is very important to me.
Special shout-out again to Jessica Mach for answering my e-mails when I inquired and helping me navigate the menu without any trouble at all.
If you are in the Louisville area or are coming to Louisville, Kentucky, and love or want to try Vietnamese food…I can’t speak highly enough of Pho Ba Luu. People with food allergies…welcome…and taken care of. I call that winning!
See you next week!