Restaurant News & Reviews

See if you can pick out Le Pho’s five flavors: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet

Pho Chin Nam with well-done brisket and flank steak is one of the options at Le Pho.
Pho Chin Nam with well-done brisket and flank steak is one of the options at Le Pho. Special to The Telegraph

If you’ve never tried Vietnamese food and would like to learn to appreciate it, it helps to know that balance is very important. Not only does the food have to smell, taste and look good, it usually has five fundamental flavors as well: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. As you try the flavorful dishes at Le Pho, see if you can identify each of these tastes in every spoonful.

Without question, pho is the most popular Vietnamese dish. It’s basically a noodle soup loaded with at least one meat, onion, fish sauce and spices. At Le Pho, pho (properly pronouced “fuh” but popularly pronounced “foe”) comes in a very large “small” bowl for $8.95 or a humongous “large” bowl for $9.95. As pho is not nearly as good when it’s eaten as leftovers, I recommend getting a small bowl and some appetizers.

While the cuts of meat may sound odd, the usually cheap cuts are mixed together to provide a yin and yang of soft/crunchy and savory/sweet. For example, at Le Pho they add a fatty marbled brisket to a lean eye of round steak in their Pho Tai Chin and crunchy fat is added to flank in the Pho Nam Gau. If that’s a bit too exotic, try the classic Pho Ga, aka chicken noodle, or the Pho Tom with shrimp only.

If you want to start with baby steps, the steamed rice with grilled pork chop or house special fried rice will give you an idea of Vietnamese flavors without the unusual meats. There’s also “bun” which is a rice noodle dish with your choice of protein or even egg rolls on top.

Almost everything here is healthy, with very little fried or prepackaged. The spring rolls are steamed with fresh vegetables and a ton of fresh herbs like mint, cilantro and Thai basil packed inside. The only exceptions are the drinks, most of which come with condensed milk in them. Whether you get hot coffee, cold coffee or tea, stir it up to get all that milky sweetness dispersed into the strong drink. If you’re a boba fan, they have that, too.

So go balance your yin and your yang with a bowl of pho and a boba at Le Pho. Never thought I’d write that in Macon.

Le Pho

Address: 5966 Zebulon Road, Macon

Phone: 478-254-2611

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday

Payment: credit card, cash

Smoking: no

Alcohol: no

Noise level: low

Health rating: 92

Delivery service: no

Price range: $8.95-$12.99

Rating: 3 stars